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Making Common Standards Into Curriculum

How do you turn standards into curriculum, and how do you test students to see if they've mastered the stuff in the standards?

Those, of course, are a couple of the Big Questions generated by the standards movement. And they've had new life breathed into them by the common standards movement. As you know, 36 states and the District of Columbia have already adopted the new set of standards, and they're now grappling with the curriculum-and-assessment questions that form the Holy Trinity on this (some would include a fourth: cut scores. But I digress...).

We've reported on discussions and grant-making that have been taking shape about curriculum development, and we've talked your ear off about the consortia of states that are working on designing assessments, fueled by $330 million in federal funding.

So if you are interested in all that stuff, you will probably be interested in this discussion of curriculum development by Core Knowledge Foundation founder E.D. Hirsch, Jr. (A version appeared in the New York Daily News as well.) Hirsch talks about the importance of developing curriculum that builds students' content knowledge and literacy skills simultaneously.

Reflecting discussion in the field, the common standards treat reading as something that should be taught in—and tailored to—all subject areas, not just English. Turning that into real-life practice will require a bit of a paradigm shift in the field, and that's putting it mildly. (Teaching literacy across the subject areas figures prominently in yesterday's New York Times profile of a big Massachusetts high school that turned itself around. Take a look.)

I'm interested, as I hope you are, in following this conversation about reading as it progresses.

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