When is being “common” a good thing?


The word “common” is often used in a derogatory way, but the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) may be the best thing to happen in education in the last decade.  The states and the National Governors’ Association led this initiative to establish a common framework for math and English curriculum across all states.  In the past, each state spent hundreds of hours developing their own curriculum standards, and as a result, math in North Carolina could be very different from math in Massachusetts or any other state.  For the very first time this fall, 45 states, the District of Columbia and three territories will be teaching curriculum based on the Common Core State Standards.

To educators, this is a huge shift that will require many changes in teaching and a massive redesign of curriculum.  The process won’t be easy, and it will require substantial professional development as teachers learn new ways of teaching.  As for those in business or other fields, many may wonder why it took so long to do something so rational.

Last year SAS CEO, Jim Goodnight, along with other national leaders, made a strong statement in support of the standards and encouraged all states to adopt them.  Recognizing the dire need for new materials and online resources, particularly in math, Dr. Goodnight asked the SAS Curriculum Pathways staff to create an online Algebra I Course based on the CCSS. The new course was officially announced yesterday. It was created with input from teachers and released in August, 2012.  It will be offered at no cost to teachers and students.  Based on the initial reactions of educators, this course will be invaluable to classrooms across the country as they transition to the new standards.

So as the entire education landscape shifts to CCSS with the opening of schools this fall, the SAS Curriculum Pathways Algebra I Course will be there to support teachers.  Next time someone asks you for an example of how businesses can support public schools, you might point them to the Web site for a preview.  You might also point them to the 3rd Annual Triangle High Five Math Summit, a free event that will host almost 800 teachers on SAS Campus.

In one sense, these are merely two contributions to solving a huge problem—just one online course and a two-day conference.  But we view them as sound investments.  SAS invests time and resources in public schools because we believe an educated population leads to a robust economy and a globally competitive workforce.  SAS employees can take pride in knowing that our company supports teachers in an ever-changing landscape.

To learn more about the SAS commitment to education, read the SAS Loves Math blog series, which features conversations with SAS employees about their use of math at work.


About Author

Caroline McCullen

Caroline McCullen is the Director of Education Initiatives at SAS Institute. As a Former National Technology Teacher of the Year, she continues to pursue her greatest passions: supporting activities and organizations that inspire excellence in education and helping schools harness innovative uses of technology to engage students and improve instruction. Her most recent projects focus on science, technology engineering, and mathematics (STEM). She continues to work with the SAS Programming for High School course, the Triangle High Five Math Collaborative, and other activities related to excellence in math and technology. She serves on the advisory boards of numerous education organizations, such as the NC Science, Technology and Math Center; Public School Forum; NC Center for After-School Programs; the Governor’s Talent and Workforce Development Committee; and Wake Education Partnership. She holds a B.A. in English with a minor in education from Florida State University and a M.S. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) with a focus on technology from Nova Southeastern University, but she continues to learn every day from teachers and students as they use technology to innovate.


  1. The term common has created some confusion among families, teachers, and school board members. We have been trained in the era of "In Search of Excellence," "Good to Great," and "Uncommon." While it is easy for educators to understand the benefits of "Common" Standards http://tiny.cc/ep3siw - some families may be confused by the term common. Who wants their child to have a common teacher in a common school district?

    Thank you to SAS for ongoing support of standards-based education. This week, five school districts were able to benefit from presenters, the opportunity to network with hundreds of math educators and administrators, and online resources that followed the event. Dr. Goodnight, Ann Goodnight, Caroline McCullen, Dawn Leister, and the countless SAS staff members who volunteered to host the event for educators are to be commended.

    Education is changing. Instructional Shifts will take place as a result of the Common Core State Standards. Teachers and schools will have the opportunity to prepare for K-12 students to become College and Career Ready. Thank you to SAS for your ongoing support of education!

    • Caroline McCullen on

      I think you make an excellent point, Steven. No parent wants their child to be in a "common" classroom. That is why it is so important to educate the general public about where the standards came from and why they are a crucial step in the right direction. Since the CCSS are internationally benchmarked, they can help the U.S. catch up to other countries whose students outperform ours on the PISA and other international assessments.

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