Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Iowa Core Curriculum and the Common Core

Mrs. Owen-Kuhn discusses the Geogrpahy of the Mississippi river during
a recent 4th grade class.
The Iowa Core Curriculum, or Common Core, as it is now referred to, is often times mistakenly identified as merely a set of standards and benchmarks that we expect our students to know and be able to do when they complete a grade level or course of study.  The reality is that it is much more, and much deeper than that!  To describe the Common Core as standards and benchmarks is overly simplistic. 

The Iowa Department of Education describes the vision of the Iowa Core in this way: "Iowa's students deserve an education that helps them succeed in today's technology rich, global economy. The Iowa Core (formerly known as the Iowa Core Curriculum and the Model Core Curriculum) provides academic expectations for all Iowa's K-12 students.

"It does so by helping teachers take learning to a deeper level by focusing on a well-researched set of standards in literacy and mathematics and essential concepts and skills in science, social studies, and 21st century learning (civic literacy, financial literacy, technology literacy, health literacy, and employability skills). The Iowa Core is not course-based, but rather is a student-based approach that supports high expectations for all students.

"The vision for the Iowa Core is to ensure the success of each and every student by providing a world-class curriculum. The Iowa Core is designed to improve achievement of all students, preparing them for the world of work and lifelong learning. It identifies the essential content and instruction of critical content areas that all students must experience."

Notice that phrase "World-Class", it has been mentioned before, most recently during the roll out of the Education Blueprint.  The Department goes on to outline six key outcomes to assist in the implementation of the Core. 
  1. School leaders build and sustain system capacity to implement the Iowa Core.
  2. Community members and other supporting agencies work together to support the implementation of the Iowa Core.
  3. A continuous improvement process to improve teaching and learning is used at the district and school level.
  4. District leaders and other educators monitor and use data to increase the degree of alignment of each and every student’s enacted curriculum and other relevant educational opportunities to the Iowa Core.
  5. Educators engage in professional development focused on implementing Characteristics of Effective Instruction and demonstrate understanding of Essential Concepts and Skills.
  6. Educators implement effective instructional practices to ensure high levels of learning for each and every student.
The question  now must be, where is Hudson in the implementation of the Core?  Well, we are full steam ahead in the implementation.  Outcome #1, mentioned above calls for school leaders to build and sustain capacity to implement the Iowa Core.  In the Hudson Community School District, we have identified and implemented a professional development leadership team comprised of district administration and faculty.  This committee is charged with the development and delivery of professional development efforts that emphasize the implementation of the Core.

In outcome #4, we are most concerned with the alignment of our enacted curriculum.  Enacted and intended are two different concepts, and it is our intention to make sure that our intended becomes our enacted.  We are aligned with a group known as MISIC (Mid Iowa School Improvement Consortium), which helps to ensure that our standards and benchmarks are in sync with the Iowa Core.  It is our responsibility to ensure that these standards are being taught at the right depth at the right time.  In the Hudson community School District, we have trained a core group of educators to oversee and train the balance of the faculty to begin stage one of the curriculum alignment process in January of 2012.

The best curriculum in the world is virtually useless unless implemented with effective and research based instructional strategies.  In outcome #5, the characteristics of effective instruction have been identified.  In the Hudson Community School District, educators are engaged in professional learning communities where the focal point of these groups is the study of CEI (characteristics of effective instruction).  During our most recent early dismissal, the topic of study was student centered classrooms.  In case you are wondering, the characteristics are as follows:
  1. Student centered classrooms
  2. Teaching for understanding
  3. Assessment for learning (Formative Assessment)
  4. Rigorous and relevant curriculum
  5. Teaching for learner differences

No comments:

Post a Comment