Can somebody explain to me the difference between the Common Core and No Child Left Behind? Are they part of the same initiative, or are they two separate programs?


Dylan Ferniany, Gifted and Talented Education Program Administrator

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From an educator's perspective the greatest difference between Common Core State Standards and the State Standards that were mandated under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is academic rigor and consistency. Under NCLB each state had to create their own standards for every subject area. Some states had higher standards and expectations than others. If you made standards easy, more students would be marked proficient under NCLB. Common Core State Standards were developed by a consortium of states. What we are experiencing now is a gap between holding students to basic standards and holding them to high standards. Most states adopted Common Core State Standards or similar versions of the standards so that they could waive the mandates of No Child Left Behind.

Brianne Keith, Senior Editor and Writer, WGBH Education

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The Common Core is a set of American education standards and No Child Left Behind is a piece of legislation. The Common Core Standards began to be developed in 2009, with the idea of "standardizing" or "regularizing" standards across States so that every student in every state would have access to the same educational preparation for college. Before Common Core Standards, each state had their own standards by which they prepared students for college and after-high school careers, which could often lead to students arriving at college having varying levels of preparedness. No Child Left Behind was a legislative act put into place by the Bush Administration in 2001, and set up a system by which states would compete for federal funding for education by proving their schools passed certain standards tests.

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