S.C. Will Assist Common Core Standards Project Without Governor's OK, Rex Says

June 3, 2009

COLUMBIA, SC – June 3, 3009 – State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex said that South Carolina hopes to participate to whatever extent possible in a national effort announced today that aims to develop common academic standards in mathematics and English language arts. 

The state cannot officially join the Common Core State Standards Initiative, sponsored by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, because Gov. Mark Sanford refused to co-sign South Carolina’s application with Rex. 

Governors and state education superintendents from 46 states and three U.S. territories formally signed on to the state-led process to develop a common core of state standards that will be research and evidence-based, internationally benchmarked and aligned with college and work expectations.  South Carolina, Alaska, Texas and Missouri are the only states not yet admitted.

I’ve been assured by CCSSO that South Carolina will not be excluded from these worthwhile discussions due to the governor’s refusal, Rex said.  In today’s global economy, the idea of each state having its own unique academic standards makes very little sense.

Even so, this isn’t a top-down federal mandate.  It’s a collective effort of the states, which can adapt the common core standards to their individual situations and timelines.

Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas, NGA’s vice chairman, said American students must be better prepared to compete with students from around the world if the nation is to maintain its competitive edge.

Common standards that allow us to internationally benchmark our students’ performance with other top countries have the potential to bring about a real and meaningful transformation of our education system to the benefit of all Americans, Douglas said.

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

Measuring our students against international benchmarks is an important step, said Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine. Today, we live in a world without borders. It not only matters how Virginia students compare to those in surrounding states – it matters how we compete with countries across the world.

The NGA and CCSSO are coordinating the process to develop these standards and have created an expert validation committee to provide an independent review of the common core state standards, as well as the grade-by-grade standards. 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; grade-by-grade standards work is expected to be completed in December.

Founded in 1908, the NGA is the collective voice of the nation’s governors.  Its members are the governors of the 50 states, three territories and two commonwealths.  CCSSO is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions.