The Common Core was developed by the bipartisan National Governors Association in cooperation with Council of Chief State School Officers. The Common Core calls for a significant raising of learning expectations.
Discussion of the curriculum enhancements frequently contains the word "rigor" - meaning, in the context of education, greatly raising students' ability to apply knowledge and use complex thinking.
Leigh Mobley, curriculum director for Tupelo schools, is immersed for three weeks this summer with many of the system's teachers in writing curriculum that will pull and push students.
Tony Wagner, a leading education researcher at Harvard, defines seven categories in which students must be led to excel, all ideas with which Mobley said she agrees:
* Critical thinking and problem solving: " ... As one senior executive from Dell said, 'Yesterday's answers won't solve today's problems.'"
* Collaboration and leadership: Christie Pedra, CEO of Siemens, explained, "We have teams working ... with people all around the world on solving a software problem."
* Agility and adaptability: Executive Clay Parker at BOC Edwards said his hires have "to think, be flexible, change, and use a variety of tools. ... I can guarantee the job I hire someone to do will change or may not exist in the future ..."
* Initiative and entrepreneurialism: Mark Chandler, senior vice president at Cisco, told Wagner, "I say to my employees, if you try five things and get all five of them right, you may be failing. If you try 10 things, and get eight of them right, you're a hero. You'll never be blamed for failing to reach a stretch goal, but you will be blamed for not trying ..."
* Effective oral and written communication: Mike Summers of Dell said, "We are routinely surprised at the difficulty some young people have in communicating... (T)he complaints I heard most frequently were about fuzzy thinking and young people not knowing how to write with a real voice."
* Accessing and analyzing information: As Summers told Wagner, "There is so much information available ... and if people aren't prepared to process the information effectively it almost freezes them in their steps."
* Curiosity and imagination: Summers said, "People who've learned to ask great questions and have learned to be inquisitive are the ones who move the fastest in our environment because they solve the biggest problems ..."
Achieving more is never easy, but it's a necessity in education where students deserve adequate preparation for the world they will face.