The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) announced on June 1 that Illinois is joining 48 other states and U.S. territories to develop common learning standards in English and math for elementary and secondary students. Called the “Common Core State Standards Initiative,” this process will be jointly led by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) to create a common core of learning standards based on the best evidence, research and academic performance of countries around the world.

 “We are excited to use national as well as international benchmarks as we develop better learning standards for students across the country,” said Christopher A. Koch, State Superintendent of Education. “This historic development will provide the foundation for dramatically improving teaching and learning. We’ll be better positioned to prepare our students for the rigor and challenges of college and careers and to bring consistency to standards, curriculum, assessments and college entry requirements.”

In addition to Illinois, the other states and territories committed to this state-led process are: Alabama, Arizona; Arkansas; California; Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; District of Columbia; Florida; Georgia; Hawaii; Idaho; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Montana; Nebraska; Nevada; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Oregon; Pennsylvania; Puerto Rico; Rhode Island; South Dakota; Tennessee; Utah; Vermont; Virgin Islands; Virginia; Washington; West Virginia; Wisconsin; Wyoming.

“We live in a global business place,” said Jesse H. Ruiz, Chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education. “We can no longer simply compare our students to those in other states, but must prepare our students to compete with, and work with, their counterparts across the globe.” 

The Common Core State Standards Initiative will build directly on recent efforts of leading organizations and states that have focused on developing college-and career-ready standards and ensure that these standards can be internationally benchmarked to top-performing countries around the world, said the ISBE in a prepared statement. The goal is to have a common core of state standards that states can voluntarily adopt. States may choose to include additional standards as long as the common core represents at least 85 percent of the state’s standards in English and mathematics.

The second phase of this initiative is to ultimately develop common tests aligned to the core standards developed through the process.

The NGA Center and CCSSO will coordinate the process to develop these standards and will create an expert validation committee to provide an independent review of the common core state standards, as well as the grade-by-grade standards, said ISBE. This committee will be composed of nationally and internationally recognized and trusted education experts who are neutral to – and independent of – the process.

The college and career ready standards are expected to be completed in July 2009. The grade-by-grade standards work is expected to be completed in December 2009.