Iowa Core and Common Core Adoption

The July 21st article in the Des Moines Register, Group faults Iowa for standards for math, English created more than a little stir among my Iowa colleagues, and I want to take a moment to respond from my perspective. Some background on my perspective: 
  • I was one of the original writing team members for the Model Core Curriculum back in 2005
  • I have served on a variety of work teams and committees in the ongoing development of the work of the Iowa Core--one of which is a team that was convened just this month to look critically at the content of the Common Core, the relationship between the Iowa Core and the Common Core, and make recommendations to the State Board of Education (BOE) regarding Common Core adoption
Disclaimer: The opinion I am going to share is my own. It is not necessarily shared by the Iowa Department of Education or anyone else. 

There really are two separate issues to be addressed in the article: Iowa's adoption of the Common Core and the Fordham Institute's analysis of the Iowa Core. I will just address one of these issues in this posting-for the sake of brevity. 

On the issue of Common Core adoption: 

By the time you read this, I anticipate the BOE will have adopted the Common Core. While I do understand and appreciate the reactions of some of my colleagues who feel as if the train has just jumped the tracks (again, as many of you who have been around much longer than I have might add), let me contextual this. 

The Iowa Core is broad. It addresses six different outcomes, only one of which is content alignment--or aligning what we teach with the Essential Concepts and Skills of the Iowa Core. Presumably, the adoption of the Common Core will have the largest impact on this work. All the good work already happening with effective instruction, leadership, assessment, community engagement, and professional development remains on track. And, I believe much of the work districts have already done in the world of content alignment will still be relevant in the post Common Core adoption world. 

Further, I have to say that, though I have been a staunch advocate of the Iowa Core, it is not perfect. After an in-depth review of the English/Language Arts portion of the Common Core, I would also admit that it's not perfect. Nothing is. Keep in mind that the rules of adoption allow a state to add 15% to the Common Core. Iowa will be doing so. I can say definitively that the result will be something that is better than either Iowa Core or Common Core alone, and this is good for the students of Iowa. 

I will close by reminding you that the Iowa Core is a continuous improvement process. It is not an event--or even a series of events. Progress requires change, and I, for one, see the adoption of the Common Core with Iowa's 15% addition as a good thing. 


  1. Very good blog Bridgette :). I hope you get a lot of folks reading it. I think you've hit the nail on the head.

  2. I took care of many of my own issues with the Core by seeing it not as a curricular mandate but a mindset. A promise to our state's students. We'll all get to the "State Fair", folks, but the vehicle you take, and walk if you choose, the route you trek upon, and the music you sing along with on the journey are variable. And that's the magic. It's measurable. It's fair. And it accounts for strengths while insisting we address weaknesses. Great blog.