Examples From the Field
To make sure children are exposed to the rich content that will propel them past the notorious fourth-grade reading slump, scores of schools in New York City are instituting Core Knowledge, a nationally available curriculum sequence that addresses social studies, science, math, literature and the arts through a coherent grade-by-grade curriculum framework, backed up by a growing variety of student and teacher materials. Nationally certified trainers from the United Federation of Teachers will provide training and in-school support to teachers.
Hawthorne Academy, an inner-city, predominant Hispanic school in San Antonio, Texas, has been using the Core Knowledge sequence since 1992. It offers teachers grade-by-grade guidelines for teaching a rich, content-packed curriculum. Even though 90 percent of Hawthorne Academy's students are economically disadvantaged, 93 percent passed the state reading test in 2005—that's 10 percentage points higher than the statewide passing rate. But their success isn't limited to reading: Hawthorne students also surpassed the statewide passing rate (by at least 7 percentage points) in mathematics, writing, science and social studies.
Common Core is an independent organization, co-chaired by AFT secretary-treasurer Antonia Cortese, founded in 2008 for the purpose of promoting a full core curriculum. Leaders of the organization believe that a child who graduates from high school without an understanding of culture, the arts, history, literature, civics, and language has in fact been left behind. They believe schools are sacrificing the subjects that open students' minds and teach them to think critically and imaginatively about the world. To improve education in America, the organization works to promote programs, policies, and initiatives at the local, state, and federal levels that provide students with challenging, rigorous instruction in the full range of liberal arts and sciences.