Who Wrote the Common Core Standards? Committees Explained

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The Federal Government states they are not involved in the development of the Common Core Standards. Image by MZSU

The Federal Government states they are not involved in the development of the Common Core Standards. Image by MZSU

There are those who say that the Common Core State Standards Initiative is wonderful, and a step in the right direction for American schools, and there are those who fear a Federal take-over of the local public school systems. Let’s take a look at who is truly behind the Common Core.

State-Led Initiative vs. Federal Government Takeover of Public Schools

There is some confusion regarding the origination of the common core standards. According to the official CCSS initiative website, the common core initiative is “state led”. This gives the illusion that it is a grass roots type of initiative, with the power of decision in the hands of the people rather than a government program.

We are told that the “federal government was NOT involved in the development of the standards.” Instead, “governors and education commissioners… National Governors Association… [and the] council of Chief of state school officers” led the development of, and continue to lead the initiative. The site also states that the National Standards are “not a part of No Child Left Behind” as further explanation as to how the Federal Government is not involved with these national standards.

For all their non-involvement, however, the Federal government has used considerable financial incentives to convince states to adopt the standards.

Common Core: Who Provided Input, and What Does It Mean?

We are also told on the Common Core website, that “teachers, parents, school administrators and experts …together with state leaders provided input in the development.” This sounds as if teachers, parents, school administrators and other people deemed “experts” had an active role in the writing of the standards. But notice the wording – they provided input. In other words, they gave their opinions. It is vital to know both who had input and whose input was given the most weight, to know who actually wrote the standards.

James Milgram was one of 25 persons on the CCSSO/NGA Validation Committee, which helped to oversee the development of the National Core Standards. He admits to having great influence on the standards, but that there was obviously input from other sources as well. Here is what he said on Parents Across America regarding those others who provided input into the standards:

A number of these sources were mainly focused on things like making the standards as non-challenging as possible. Others were focused on making sure their favorite topics were present, and handled in the way they liked.”

The result is what Milgram refers to as “extremely serious failings” in the math standards.

Who Wrote the Common Core Standards?

Three committees were put together for both the math and the language arts standards.

  • First was the work group. The common core work group did the physical writing of the standards. Their deliberations were confidential throughout the process, and they gave drafts to various organizations for review. Individuals in the work groups included members of ACT, America’s Choice, Achieve, the College Board, and Student Achievement partners.
  • The second common core committee is a feedback group. This group performed a strictly advisory role, and had no decision-making abilities. Instead, they provided extensive research and input on the drafts that they were provided. Their input and research then went back to the original work groups for any changes that the work group felt necessary. The feedback groups included a variety of professors. These individuals fall under the “expert” category that you see listed under who had input into the development of the standards.
  • Finally, there was the expert Validation committee. There were 29 individuals on the validation committee. The Validation committee’s job was to review the process and provide recommendations that helped to inform that process. They ensured each standard had ample research backing its inclusion and they were to recommend any additional standards they felt were missing and cite the research to back their opinions.

Common Core Committees: Race To The Middle

If the overall goal of the common core standards was to encourage schools in a race to the middle, the committees appear to have succeeded. Federal funding, as well as prominent private organizations, backs the new standards, which raise the bar for some schools while lowering expectations for others. Will our schools go along? Only time will tell.


National Governors Association. Common Core State Standards Development Work Group and Feedback Group Announced. (2009).  Accessed on September 2, 2013.

National Governors Association. Common Core State Standards Initiative Validation Committee Announced. (2009). Accessed on September 2, 2013.

Pearson. Pearson and America’s Choice Announce Acquisition Agreement. (2010). Accessed on September 2, 2013.

Achieve the Core. About Student Achievement Partners. Accessed on September 2, 2013.

Achieve, Inc. Achieving the Common Core. (2013). Accessed on September 2, 2013.

Truth in American Education. States Fighting Back Map Update. (2013). Accessed on September 2, 2013.

Milgram, James. James Milgram on the new Common Core standards in Math. Parents Across America. Accessed on September 2, 2013.

Common Core State Standards Initiative. Implementing the State Common Core Standards. (2012). Accessed on September 2, 2013.

© Copyright 2013 Jennifer Wagaman, All rights Reserved. Written For: Decoded Parenting

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