I was fortunate to be a part of a group of education leaders who started Common Core seven years ago. We shared a concern that the study of history, science, the arts, foreign languages, and other subjects long considered (and in many nations STILL considered) central to a student’s education were getting short shrift in American classrooms. We were also worried that reading and math, though consuming an increasing share of class time, were not being taught effectively.
So our group of master teachers, scholars, and current and former school, district, and state education leaders formed Common Core, to advocate for a comprehensive liberal arts education for all children. These leaders believe what the evidence shows—that getting the content right is where successful education begins. Getting the content right means using high-quality works of literature and non-fiction, instead of unremarkable basals or leveled readers. It means not being satisfied with merely teaching math skills and processes, but making sure that students have a deep mastery of mathematical concepts. In history it means providing students with a significant base of knowledge of U.S. and world history, in addition to teaching them to think critically about events and ideas.
Back in 2007, we thought it would be enough to conduct and share research that demonstrated the centrality of the liberal arts and sciences to successful K-12 education. Many listened. Those who wanted to act often asked this question: What curriculum can I use to provide my students with the kind of education you recommend? We found that we had too few good answers.
So, with the advent of the Common Core State Standards in 2010, we decided to begin designing a library of content-rich, standards-based curriculum materials. Two months after the standards were finalized we released the Common Core Curriculum Maps in English Language Arts. The first truly CCSS-based ELA curriculum tool, these maps (now renamed the Wheatley Portfolio) are in use by tens of thousands of teachers nationwide.
Then, in 2012, CC won three contracts from the New York State Education Department to create a comprehensive PreK–12 mathematics curriculum, and to conduct associated professional development. From that effort we have created Eureka Math, a state-of-the-art online curriculum that meets the needs of the teacher, the trainer, and the student.
And in June of 2013, we added another curriculum tool—the Alexandria Plan, which extensively illustrates how to conduct close reads of excellent non-fiction books on essential topics in United States and world history.
We still tell people what we think—in the form of blogs, research, forums, and outreach. But with the help of the talented teachers and scholars who write our materials, we’re also doing what we can to provide our nation’s schoolteachers the kind of quality materials their dedication demands and their students deserve.
President and Executive Director