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October, 2016

Lyles-Crouch Gets High Marks on State Report Card

Students and teachers at Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy have something to celebrate. For this public school in Alexandria, Virginia—also a Core Knowledge School of Distinction—the latest State Report Card results put the school ahead of all other elementary schools in its district and overall ahead of the state as well.

The Report Card provides test score data at three levels: state, district (school-division), and school. On the 2015-2016 Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) tests, 95% of Lyles-Crouch students passed in Reading, compared to 73% in the district and 80% across the state. In Mathematics, 92% of Lyles-Crouch students passed, compared to 68% in the district and 80% across the state. The “passing” percentage includes students who scored at the Proficient or Advanced levels on the SOL tests.

For more detailed performance comparisons, read our blog post on Lyle-Crouch.

Congratulations to everyone at Lyles-Crouch for the hard work and outstanding performance!

"Why knowledge matters in the Common Core era" panel discussion

The Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. will welcome E. D. Hirsch, Jr. on October 19 to discuss the ideas put forth in his new book (Why Knowledge Matters, Harvard Education Press) and participate in a panel discussion on “why knowledge matters in the Common Core era.” According to Brookings, the panelists “will discuss the evidence on critical education issues such as the Common Core state standards, test alignment, and reducing achievement gaps across racial, ethnic, and income lines.”

Besides Dr. Hirsch, the panelists include Sonia Cabell (Assistant Professor, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia), William Galston (Senior Fellow, Governance Studies, Brookings Institution), and Michael Hansen (Director, Brown Center on Education Policy, Brookings Institution).

Registration is required to attend the event, which will be held on Wednesday, Oct 19, 2016, from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. EDT.

September, 2016

Congratulations, Blue Ribbon Winners!

A big shout-out to the just-announced 2016 National Blue Ribbon Schools singled out by the U.S. Department of Education for overall academic excellence or closing achievement gaps—especially the six schools helping students build strong foundations of knowledge through the Core Knowledge Sequence and (at some sites) the Core Knowledge Language Arts® curriculum.

Of those six, Center City PCS (Congress Heights Campus) in Washington, DC was noted as an Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing School. Five other Blue Ribbon winners were distinguished as Exemplary High Performing Schools:

A lively profile of Icahn Charter 4 is featured in the Fall 2016 issue of EducationNext. Jeff Litt, Core Knowledge pioneer and now superintendent of Icahn’s network of seven charter schools, sums up the significance of a content-rich curriculum: “For children to be successful as adults, they need a baseline of knowledge so they’ll be able to communicate, understand a story in the New York Times, to someday write an article for the New York Times! People talk about critical thinking. You cannot think critically if you don’t have something to think about; knowledge matters.”

To the six 2016 Blue Ribbon Schools using Core Knowledge and proving that knowledge matters, we express congratulations, gratitude, and encouragement for ongoing success! 

August, 2016

Teacher’s Subject-Matter Expertise in Elementary School

A new report published by the National Center on Education and the Economy’s (NCEE) Center on International Education Benchmarking (CIEB), sheds light on what the world’s highest performing educational systems value most when preparing and selecting elementary teachers—deep content knowledge of the subjects they teach.  

"The countries with the best-performing education systems are recruiting very able students from their high schools, and investing heavily in the initial training and continuous development of their teachers to ensure that they have a deep understanding of the subject they will teach and the most effective ways to teach that subject to their students. Without a deep understanding of the subjects being taught in elementary school, a teacher will not be able to identify the specific misunderstandings of the underlying concepts that defeat students and cannot help them grasp the concepts that constitute the essential foundation for more advanced work in middle and high school." – NCEE President and CEO, Marc Tucker

To read full report, Not So Elementary: Primary School Teacher Quality in Top-Performing Systems, and watch the release webinar, visit the CIEB website.

How Kids Learn to Read

What does cognitive science tell us about how children learn to read?  Through a series of flashcards, The 74 succinctly describes the key to developing proficient reading comprehension, and debunks the misconception that purely focusing on strategies or simply “googling” facts is sufficient. 

A Well-Rounded Education Leads to Strong Reading Comprehension

The Education Week Teacher article, To Boost Reading, Stop Blaming Teachers and Start Building Knowledge, Lisa Hansel and Robert Pondiscio describe the relationship between knowledge, vocabulary, and reading comprehension:  

A child does not become a strong reader by learning to sound out words and practicing reading alone (though these are important). Reading comprehension—the ability to make meaning from text—is largely a reflection of a child’s overall education. Good readers tend to know at least a little about a broad range of things. The best way to build a strong reader is with high-quality instruction in science, social studies, and the arts—as well as in reading.

June, 2016

A Recommendation to Fellow Publishers

The final part of Core Knowledge President Linda Bevilacqua’s blog series for Achieve the Core focuses on giving advice to developers and publishers of instructional materials regarding alignment to learning standards. Read part 4 of the Getting to Know Core Knowledge series to learn more.

Open Educational Resources Are Just Building Blocks—An Education Requires An Architect

In Lisa Hansel’s recent article for Education Next, she addresses developers of open educational resources (OER) and offers guidance for creating carefully sequenced, content-rich, coherent materials for teachers and students: “A great education is carefully mapped out. The topics to be taught are intentionally sequenced grade by grade so that students acquire the broad, sturdy foundation they need to be literate adults capable of pursuing their own interests.” Read more...

The Bronx is Learning

In a recent post, Education Next displayed video footage of Icahn Charter School students reenacting several critical periods in world history and demonstrating their understanding of the events through theatrical performance. The Icahn Charter Schools have been implementing Core Knowledge for quite some time and have achieved some of the highest student test scores in the area through the use of content-rich curricula. In Charles Sahm’s article for Education Next, The Bronx is Learning, he elaborates further on Icahn’s success and how Core Knowledge has played a part in helping to achieve it. 

May, 2016

How Core Knowledge Supports CCSS-Aligned Instruction

In this blog post that appeared originally on Student Achievement Partner’s Achieve the Core website, Linda Bevilacqua, President of the Core Knowledge Foundation, will share an instructional materials developer’s perspective on the current materials landscape as well as provide an in-depth look at the Core Knowledge curricular materials.

Knowledge Needs Champions

Knowledge Matters is a new initiative dedicated to ensuring that schools across America begin to implement a knowledge-rich curriculum. Teacher surveys of instructional time indicate that the average time devoted to social studies instruction in Kindergarten–Grade 6 is as little as 16–21 minutes per day, with only 19–24 minutes per day on science. For more information about how you can support this campaign, read guest blogger Lisa Hansel’s post today on the Core Knowledge blog and consider adding your name to the Knowledge Matters credo. If you are a Core Knowledge teacher, be sure to identify yourself as such when you sign the credo.

Bryant Elementary School Captures California Gold Ribbon Award

Congratulations to Bryant Elementary School for receiving the California Gold Ribbon. After nearly closing its doors five years ago due to low test scores and enrollment, Lari Nelson became principal and the school adopted Core Knowledge. Today, Bryant Elementary is one of the top schools in the Riverside area and implements an engaging set of content-rich curricula, bringing wonder and excitement into their classrooms. The school has reached such a high level of acclaim that parents from other cities are wanting to send their children to Bryant. Principal Nelson said, “We’ve created this pathway where kids love to come to school and they’re thriving.” Read Press Enterprise’s article to learn more about the Gold Ribbon award and Bryant Elementary.

How Core Knowledge is Different than Other Curriculum Options

In this blog post that appeared originally on Student Achievement Partner’s Achieve the Core website, Core Knowledge President Linda Bevilacqua explains why the Core Knowledge Foundation decided to develop the Core Knowledge Language Arts program and how it differs from other ELA curricula.

April, 2016

Peach Hill Academy Awarded the California Gold Ribbon

Congratulations to Peach Hill Academy for being among the three schools chosen from the Moorpark area for this honorable achievement. California also commended Peach Hill's use of the Core Knowledge curriculum, which they have been using since 2001. In response, Peach Hill's principle, Vicky Yasenchock, had many kind words to say about the rigorous Core Knowledge approach to education. Read the Moorpark Acorn's article about the event

NAEP Releases 2015 Mathematics and Reading Results for Grade 12 Students

The National Assessment of Educational Progress released today the results of the 2015 Mathematics and Reading Assessments for Grade 12 students:

  • The average mathematics score for twelfth-grade students in 2015 was lower than 2013 by about 2 points, a statistically significant difference.
  • The average reading score for twelfth-grade students in 2015 was not significantly different from 2013.
  • The average mathematics score for English language learners significantly increased (by 6 points) from 2013.

To view more results for grade 12 in mathematics and reading, visit The Nation’s Report Card

Common Confusions about CCSS-Aligned ELA Materials

In this series, Linda Bevilacqua, President of the Core Knowledge Foundation, will share an instructional materials developer’s perspective on the current materials landscape as well as provide an in-depth look at CKLA. In this first post, Linda explains Common Confusions about CCSS-Aligned ELA Materials and how educators can improve their understanding of the CCSS-ELA to make better decisions.

A First Grade Teacher from Washington, D.C about CKLA

Adrienne Williams, a first grade teacher at an urban charter school in Washington, D.C, shared her rewarding experience in the classroom using CKLA. In her blog post, which first appeared on Achieve the Core, she talks about the advantages of a content-rich curriculum as well as her solutions to challenges she has faced regarding the pacing of instruction. Visit Achieve the Core's website to read more about her insightful experiences with CKLA

U.S. Secretary of Education John King Calls For More Content Knowledge in a Well-Rounded Education

“Being a well-educated person and passionate about learning isn't just about reading and computing well,” said King, a former social studies teacher. “It’s about being skilled and knowledgeable about a wide range of subjects, expert and passionate about a few, and confident in the quest for more knowledge.” Secretary King also cited University of Virginia cognitive scientist Dan Willingham’s work showing that students with a broad knowledge base are better able to understand what they read. Visit the Department of Education's website for more information about Secretary King's speech.

Get Answers to Your Common Core Questions

Student Achievement Partners, authors of the Common Core State Standards, and Teaching Channel are hosting an open online Q&A during April 10–16. This a great opportunity for educators and administrators to have their questions answered by CCSS experts. Sign up on teachingchannel.org to post your questions with the tag, "Common Core".

March, 2016

Register for the Share My Lesson Virtual Conference

Join content experts from Student Achievement Partners as they discuss literacy and math resources from Achieve the Core during the Share My Lesson Virtual Conference:

  • Beyond the ELA Lesson with Rachel Etienne - April 5th, 8:30pm
  • Aligned Literacy Mini-Assessments with Laura Hansen and Katie Keown - April 6th, 7pm
  • Aligned Math Mini-Assessments with Astrid Fossum - April 7th, 4pm
  • CCSS Instructional Practice Suite for Mathematics with Barbara Beske - April 7th, 7pm

Sign up for these free webinars.

‘Hamilton’ Cast Meets With Students at White House to Talk History, Arts

The Broadway hit musical, Hamilton, has been making an impact in the educational community by using rap and hip-hop as a means for delivering history lessons on the life of Alexander Hamilton and the era of the Founding Fathers. Using these popular musical styles, Hamilton has made history relatable to students in an engaging and entertaining manner. President Obama said, “We hope that this helps every teacher who’s spent hours trying to make the Federalist Papers teenager-friendly…that the remarkable life of Alexander Hamilton will show our young people the possibilities within themselves, and how much they can achieve in the span of a lifetime.”

Read Education Week's article about this event

EdNext Podcast: Overcoming Knowledge Deficits to Boost Reading Comprehension

Doug Lemov, Colleen Driggs, and Erica Woolway discuss their newly released book, Reading Reconsidered: A Practical Guide to Rigorous Literacy Instruction with Marin West.

There’s been a lot of research that suggests if you divide strong readers and weak readers into two separate groups and you give them passages based on content that they know and they don’t know, actually the degree of knowledge is often a stronger indicator of how well they’ll do in comprehending the passage than their reading skills. You need knowledge to gain knowledge in reading. – Doug Lemov

Listen to EdNext's full podcast.

Discovery Education and 3M Launch 2016 Young Scientist Challenge

Looking for an opportunity for your students to create and innovate? Discovery Education and 3M have launched the 2016 Young Scientist Challenge and are asking 5th–8th graders nationwide to submit their big ideas for a new innovation or solution to an everyday problem for the chance to win a mentorship with a 3M scientist and $25,000. To enter the challenge, students must create a one to two-minute video communicating the science behind their innovative idea. Entries for the 2016 Challenge are being accepted until 8:00pm ET on April 20th. Read more about entering the challenge.

Using ESSA to Fix Reading: Implications for State Policy

This blog post by Lisa Hansel and Robert Pondiscio of “Knowledge Matters” should be “must reading” for every state and district English Language Arts director, as well as every elementary school teacher. Hansel and Pondiscio present three options for consideration by states and districts that are serious about improving reading performance. Their recommendations, based on the findings of cognitive science research, are bold; they identify the paths which states and districts must find the courage to pursue now.

February, 2016

Core Knowledge Announces Leadership Institute for Summer of 2016

The Core Knowledge Leadership Institute will be held in Charlottesville, VA, on July 22, 2016. This professional development opportunity was designed to provide guidance to school leaders on how to implement Core Knowledge with fidelity. Registration information can be found on our calendar of events.

January, 2016

Teach Like a Champion Author Tackles Reading in New Book

Doug Lemov, the best-selling author of Teach Like a Champion, is releasing another book in March titled Reading Reconsidered. Education Week’s Liana Heitin writes:

This book looks at domain-specific teaching knowledge—that is, answering questions like, “How do I make nonfiction accessible to my students?” and “What kinds of questions should I ask during a close-reading lesson?”

The techniques are informed by the work of well-known researchers, including educational psychologist Daniel T. Willingham, University of Pittsburgh education professor emerita Isabel L. Beck, and E.D. Hirsch Jr., the founder of the Core Knowledge Foundation and the author of several books on cultural literacy, the authors say.

Read Education Week's full article about Lemov's new book.

2015 Highlights

Why Knowledge Matters

On November 10, the Hopkins-Hunter Forum for Education Policy and Core Knowledge hosted a conversation assessing the role that a strong curriculum might play in narrowing the achievement gap. Expert panelists included David Coleman, President of the College Board; Michelle Allen, Icahn Charter School Principal; Valarie Lewis, Core Knowledge Fellow and Former Principal, P.S. 124; and Ian Rowe, CEO of Public Prep. These experts examined and discussed the evidence that promotes the teaching of a sequenced, content-rich curriculum—something an increasing number of educators have come to believe this will create equal opportunities for their students. Watch the recorded event.

Why Knowledge Is the Key to Skills—and the Common Core

On October 29th, the Core Knowledge Foundation and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute sponsored a discussion of why the pursuit of skills is widening the achievement gap—and what we can do about it.

Focusing on creating digitally savvy life-long learners sounds great; but cognitive science shows that trying to cultivate skills directly—without a knowledge-rich curriculum—is pure folly. The Common Core addresses this problem by increasing the amount of informational text students read and calling for curricula “intentionally and coherently structured to develop rich content knowledge within and across grades.” Watch the recorded event.

CKLA P–5 Implementation Resources Guide

Introducing the CKLA P–5 Implementation Resources Guide! This guide organizes many free resources designed to strengthen teacher and leader competencies regarding different facets of the CKLA program. In the guide, you will find links to helpful resources such as on-demand webinars, turnkey training materials, video clips, and alignment charts.

2015 National Blue Ribbon Schools

Congratulations to three Core Knowledge Schools! Kinard Core Knowledge Middle School, High Peaks Elementary School, and Icahn Charter School 2 made the list. The U.S. Department of Education recognizes Blue Ribbon Schools based on overall academic excellence or progress toward closing the achievement gaps. Read more about this great accomplishment.

What Every American Needs to Know

On the Milt Rosenberg Show, E.D. Hirsch, Jr., describes his pioneering work in the field of cultural literacy, and the effect of coherent, knowledge-rich curricula like CKLA for students in schools around the country. Listen to the full episode.

The Origins of Knowledge-Based Learning: Q & A with E.D. Hirsch, Jr.

E.D. Hirsch, Jr., explains why knowledge building makes the difference in reading comprehension. Learn how Core Knowledge determined the knowledge students need and how to address the “knowledge problem”. Learn more and read the full Q & A report.

DC Schools Shift the Focus of Teaching Reading on Skills to Building Knowledge

“For decades, elementary schools have focused on building skills at the expense of instilling knowledge. One DC charter school network, Center City, is in the forefront of a movement to reverse that approach.”  Read more about How one DC charter school is “changing everything” to give kids knowledge.

Icahn Charter Schools Help to End Poverty

“The Icahn Charter School network in the South Bronx has been quietly registering extraordinary test results for years, while nurturing its students in an atmosphere of "unconditional love," as its emotive leader, Jeff Litt, puts it.” Read more about How To End Poverty in the South Bronx.

Independent Review Finds CKLA “Strong and Compelling”

Core Knowledge Language Arts (CKLA) is transforming the early grades! As a new review from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute states:

  • “The Core Knowledge curriculum sets a strong and compelling example for curriculum developers.”
  • “Overall, CKLA’s coverage of writing, language, listening, and speaking is very strong.”
  • “The coverage of foundational reading skills in CKLA is outstanding.”

Nearly a decade ago, the Core Knowledge Foundation saw the need for an elementary-grades language arts program that would ensure students master foundational skills while also building broad knowledge and vocabulary in literature, science, and history. We aimed to create a fundamentally different, higher-quality program—and we succeeded.

CKLA was chosen by the New York State Education Department as its recommended curriculum for preschool through second grade, and posted on EngageNY. Building on this success, the Foundation soon had CKLA domains for preschool through fifth grade online for free download. To date, well over 2.5 million CKLA files have been downloaded—for free—in all 50 states!

Knowing that educators are searching for curricula truly aligned to the Common Core State Standards, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute commissioned Elizabeth Haydel and Sheila Byrd Carmichael, two nationally recognized experts in standards-based education, to review the English language arts curriculum modules on EngageNY. Titled Uncommonly Engaging? A Review of the EngageNY English Language Arts Common Core Curriculum, the report gives high marks overall to the EngageNY modules. Regarding CKLA, the reviewers found that:

The texts in the Listening and Learning Strand are sufficiently complex—often difficult—as well as important, worthy of rereading, and well chosen to build students’ cultural and academic literacy. There is also an excellent balance of fiction and nonfiction, including a significant number of high-quality informational texts....

The pre-K–2 curriculum places knowledge—including literary knowledge—at the center. This emphasis is grounded in research that demonstrates a strong link between reading comprehension and content knowledge....

The Core Knowledge curriculum sets a strong and compelling example for curriculum developers, as it lays out a detailed sequence of instruction across a range of domains. (In second grade, for instance, the domains include Early Asian Civilizations and the Ancient Greek Civilization.)...

Overall, CKLA’s coverage of writing, language, listening, and speaking is very strong....

The coverage of foundational reading skills in CKLA is outstanding.

Literacy Ladders

Literacy Ladders is a curated collection of articles that summarize high-quality research, practices, and policies related to literacy development throughout early childhood and elementary school. Developed by the Albert Shanker Institute, American Federation of Teachers, and Core Knowledge Foundation, Literacy Ladders begins with an overview by leading researcher Marilyn Jager Adams. This volume will help teachers, administrators, and policymakers support childcare centers and schools in using best practices for language and literacy development.

2014 Highlights

The Wealth of Words

E. D. Hirsch, Jr.'s webinar as part of Student Success Week is now available online. In this webinar, Hirsch shares his insights on the importance of content-rich curriculum and how the teaching of vocabulary--within the context of a cumulative and sequenced curriculum--can affect change in our educational system.

The Top Innovative Person in Education Today?

Why, that would be none other than E. D. Hirsch, Jr.! Read the full article, featuring Hirsch along with another 30 innovators, here.

E. D. Hirsch Included in The Politico 50

E. D. Hirsch's dedication to equalizing opportunity is recognized with his inclusion in the Politico 50. As noted in its encapsulation of his work, "Hirsch’s argument was revolutionary: All children, regardless of background, should be taught the shared intellectual foundation—from Euclid to Shakespeare to Seneca Falls—needed ‘to thrive in the modern world.’”

Taken for Granted: Why Curriculum Content Is Like Oxygen

In the latest issue of American Educator, Carolyn Gosse and Lisa Hansel discuss why "a rich curriculum is the necessary precondition for improving schools" and how Core Knowledge Language Arts, a child-friendly, content-rich program, is helping students build broad background knowledge early. Read the full article, as well as other great articles by Susan Neuman and Tanya Wright, Chrys Dougherty, and Ruth Wattenburg on the importance of giving young children the content they deserve, in the full issue.