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Common-Core 'Development': When Did It Begin?

Remember the other day when Arne Duncan recounted common-standards development for a gathering of news editors?

Here at EdWeek, a couple of us questioned his timeline. He said that when the Obama administration came aboard (January 2009), the common standards were already "in development."

That caught my eye, and it also caught the eye of my colleague Michele McNeil, who covered the startup of the common-standards initiative in 2009.

Blogging about Duncan's speech on Politics K-12, Michele said that it was "iffy" that the standards were in development then, because support was still being lined up.

When I wrote about the secretary's speech here on Curriculum Matters, I wondered whether perhaps the writers had gotten an earlier start than we'd originally thought.

Turns out those questions caused a bit of a kerfuffle. While I was circling back to my sources, double-checking the points in the development timeline, folks at the education department were doing the same thing.

Chris Minnich, the executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, which co-led the common-standards initiative with the National Governors Association, heard about all this and called me up to go over it. By the time I talked to him, I had concluded that what Michele and I mean when we say "in development" isn't the same thing Duncan means when he says it.

When we think of standards being "in development," we think of people sitting down to write them. What the secretary apparently means is folks talking seriously about making them happen.

Minnich dates the roots of the Common Core State Standards back to November of 2007, when state education chiefs, gathered for a CCSSO policy forum, discussed the need for one set of shared academic standards. (David Coleman, a chief architect of the English/language arts standards, dates those early conversations about the common standards to November 2007 as well.)

The next key step on the CCSSO's development timeline are the December 2008 release, with the NGA and Achieve, of a report urging states to create a common set of internationally benchmarked standards.

After that, the timeline moves to the April 2009 summit of governors and chiefs in Chicago, where they called for states to support the concept of shared standards. By June 2009, 46 states had publicly proclaimed that support.

The writing panels were announced in July of 2009, the first draft officially released for public comment in March 2010 (although an earlier draft slipped out many months prior), and the final released in June 2010.

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