All great building projects begin with a sturdy skeleton. The Common Core Learning Standards are the sturdy skeleton on which all of the New York state education reform is based.
"The Chrysler Building is a feat of architecture that began as a skeleton structure. The steel skeleton defined the building, allowing it to become an impressive landmark.
"The CCLS are the skeleton structure, or backbone, defining what students should know and do. Without the skeleton, a building cannot be built. Without the standards, we don't know what is expected of students," said Mains.
Educational learning standards are not new in New York state. In fact, the CCLS - sometimes also called the Common Core State Standards or CCSS - replace standards that have been used for the past 20 years.
But the CCLS, adopted by New York in 2010, are far more rigorous and fit the new realities of preparing students to be college and career ready.
Educators and business community representatives developed the standards, which were sponsored jointly by the National Governor's Association and the National Association of Chief School Officers.
"I have heard comments that the Common Core is a national curriculum that is being forced on us, and I would disagree with that.
"I see the Common Core as a set of standards that everyone agrees would be smart for us to implement and helpful in order to set the same bar and same standards for all students across the country," Mains said.
College and career readiness is the primary concern that inspired the development of the CCLS.
In the U.S., 1.2 million students a year fail to graduate from college.
Of those that do graduate, 42 percent of freshmen must take remedial courses at two-year colleges and 20 percent must take remedial courses at four-year colleges.
"Based on the statistics regarding the amount of students who do not graduate high school and those that need remedial course work in college, NYS decided along with 44 other states, that it was time to do something different to raise the level of achievement in our students," said Mains. "The CCLS are much more rigorous than past standards and require students to analyze and solve problems, communicate clearly, synthesize information, apply knowledge and generalize learning to other settings, all important skills to succeed in life."