Common Core Standards – one piece of the puzzle

With states adopting common standards, a host of resources are hitting the press focusing on how to align curriculum to common standards; essentially, how to ensure successful implementation.  For instance, Curriculum Matters blog shared information about a guide published by Achieve, “On the Road to Implementation: Achieving the Promise of the Common Core State Standards,” which “…discusses such matters as aligning instructional materials, tests, and graduation requirements with the common standards, leveraging state funding to support them, and conducting “gap analyses” to see how a state’s standards differ from the common set.”

A thought-provoking post by Eugenia Kemble on the Shanker Blog  discusses the context behind common standards and implementation.  The author emphasizes the difference between standards and curriculum, a difference that the author feels many educators don’t quite understand.  Curriculum is “… the selection and sequencing of essential content knowledge”, a roadmap, if you will, that helps educators plan and implement lessons.  Essentially, the message presented here is:  if we really want to change what teachers should teach and when students should learn it, a high-quality common core curriculum is required.  It should be noted that the author does applaud those states that have adopted the common core standards given the fact that “…the clarity, rigor, and coherence of the new Common Core Standards for mathematics and English language arts represent a significant improvement over most states’ existing standards.” 

I share this post with you for two main reasons:

  1. It is important to remember the difference between standards and curriculum.
  2. Standards are just one piece of the puzzle.  If implementation is flawed (weak curriculum), this reform will fail to make a significant impact on teaching and learning.  We need all the puzzle pieces for success!