Businesses want common core for common reasons

Over forty states have adopted the Common Core State Standards Initiative. And international companies like IBM fully support it.

"A company like IBM or all the other companies that we do business with depend on a high-skilled workforce, and the Common Core is directly connected to giving our kids the skills that they need to be effective in the workplace," said Stan Litow, President of IBM International Foundation.

Common Core sets minimum standards in mathematics and English language arts and literacy. Students from kindergarten through 12th grade are tested at the end of each year.

Litow says the new young workforce falls short in math, writing, communication and problem solving. "A lot of companies--not just IBM --are recognizing the fact that too few young people who come out of school have those skills, so it's at crisis proportion."

Common Core was put in place to ensure that every student graduating from high school would college or career ready. It was backed by the federal government and started by state officials. Heather Briccetti, president and CEO of The Business Council of New York says her state was in critical need of something like this standard.

"Currently of the kids in New York who do graduate, only 35 percent are college or career ready. That means 65 percent of the students with diplomas need some additional assistance or remediation before they can enter the workforce or go to college. The Common Core represents a standard that would raise that so that 100 percent of the kids, in theory I hope, who graduate, that diploma would mean they are ready, they are career or college ready," said Briccetti.

Basic workforce training is often necessary with many jobs, but Litow says, "part of that is spending because people might not have the skills that you would need. I don't think it is the responsibility of business to then say, well educators do your job. I think we have to do this together."

However, not everybody has been on board. Some parents and educators argue that the standards are too difficult and unrealistic.

Mary Holder's six-year-old son Jaden is in second grade at a public school in Brooklyn, and she can't bear to see his day-to-day struggles with school work.

"Sometimes I feel like tearing up because I'm like 'you're not even in college yet,'" said Holder when she sees the look of frustration on her son's face while he is doing homework.

Litow hopes that parents and teachers will want to push their kids to reach these standards, no matter how difficult they are to meet.

"If that makes you so frightened and so nervous, that you say 'okay, let's go back to a less difficult test, and let's not set the high standards,' then you're cheating your students about the success that they need. What you have to do is build on that success. And that doesn't mean just let time go by, that means investing more in teachers and teacher professional development, engaging and involving the community and parents to be able to support this." said Litow.

For the United States, the measurement of student success has not been improving in comparison to other countries.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released data on the 2012 academic performance of 15-year-olds around the world in three subjects: reading, mathematics, and science. The study showed the academic performance of 15-year-olds in the United States stayed relatively the same in recent years, but other nations were improving.

All though this data doesn't necessarily show why students in particular countries outperform others, it still raises concern for Briccetti.

"We [U.S.] need to think about what we're doing wrong. Why are we losing ground to the rest of the world? And this [Common Core] is one way to try and address that."

IBM is concerned that the American worker is becoming less educationally competitive.

"I think that some international geographies are continuing to do better, they're improving their performance and the U.S. performance has been pretty stagnant," said Litow. " I know educators feel a lot of pressure about performing at a high level, but the world is changing, and we need to be competitive, and our workforce needs to be competitive."