Currently, only one-quarter of America’s K-12 students match the average performance of the top five school systems in the world. Furthermore, business leaders consistently lament the negative impact that workforce shortages and skills deficiencies are having on our economic productivity. This does not have to continue being the case.
In an ever increasingly globalized world, American students must be equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to compete with their international counterparts. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) offer us just that. By placing an emphasis on the skills valued in the workplace – critical thinking, problem solving, and mastery of mathematical concepts – the Common Core has the potential to help stem the widening achievement gap in the United States. Ultimately it will allow American students the opportunity for future competitiveness and employment.
A testament to the strength of the standards and their relevance in today’s global economy is the fact that business leaders across the country are offering their full-fledged support for the standards and their implementation in states and districts. From the CEOs of GE and Microsoft, to the Presidents of Boeing and Exxon Mobil, members of the business community recognize the importance of a highly educated workforce to the preeminence of the U.S. economy.
“Good paying jobs are going unfilled because U.S. workers don’t have the skills for the positions,” said Robert Corcoran, president and chairman of the GE Foundation. “The Common Core are part of the solution and ensuring educators know how to implement them is absolutely critical.”
The implementation process will not be without challenges. Indeed, the road to 2014 and successful implementation of the standards will be an uphill battle. States and districts will have to make tough, smart decisions. Some of those decisions will demand rethinking our education delivery models and restructuring entire systems. This level of change will be dramatic, but not impossible to achieve.
Many states have already demonstrated an incredible level of commitment to the effective implementation of the Common Core. By keeping our eyes on the ultimate goal – student success – the Common Core will be part of an integrated system that leads to more prepared students and an improved workforce.