Monday, September 8, 2008

Iowa Core Talking Points - 9/8

The Department of Ed is veeeeerrrryyyyy carefully rolling out its core curriculum for Iowa schools, putting forth talking points every so often. With a tight control over it, the department is doing its best to navigate what could be a thorny situation: telling many communities used to the last bastion of local control in the U.S. that their curriculum will be changing, all while avoiding any misinterpretation. It appears the Department of Ed is trying to avoid some of the rampant speculation that followed NCLB's rolling out earlier this decade.

With that, here are the official talking points:
• The intent of the Core Curriculum is a) to ensure all Iowa students engage in a rigorous and relevant curriculum, and b) to provide educators with a tool for assuring that essential subject matter is being taught.

• The curriculum emphasizes essential concepts and skills, doing so in literacy, mathematics, science, social studies, and 21st century learning skills (which are civic, financial, technological and health literacies).

• The curriculum aligns with Iowa's mandated core content standards (passed by the Iowa legislature in 2007).

• According to Judy Jeffrey, the curriculum will benefit students by ensuring that they grasp the big ideas (the essential concepts), moving beyond superficial knowledge to higher-level thinking, providing students opportunities to learn rigorous content, and enhancing student engagement.

• High schools are required to have implementation plans in place by July 1, 2010, with full implementation to occur by July 1, 2012. K-8 plans are required by July 1, 2012 with full implementation in 2014-2015.

• Schools will be provided with different "entry points" into the process based on their current readiness.

• Currently there is a network made up of area education agency consultants and representatives from the Urban Eight working on the delivery of training and facilitation needed by schools for the Iowa Core. This delivery will be in 3 stages: Leadership Development, Content Alignment, and Alignment of Instruction and Assessment.

• All school districts (public and non-public) will engage in the Leadership Development this year. Timeline for starting has been pushed to October. The purpose of this stage is to help leaders develop their district's Core Curriculum Implementation Plan.

• At this point, teachers should review the essential concepts and skill sets of the Iowa Core Curriculum.

Those are the department's talking points as of now. Stay tuned.

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