Raising the Bar – Iowa Core Standards

As of July 29, 2010, Iowa became yet another adopter of Common Core. Because these standards are adopted and altered at a state level, Iowa’s take on it has officially been dubbed Iowa Core. Since then, the public school system has been working hard to overhaul its set up to meet the standards set forth by those that built the foundation of Common Core.

 

Iowa Core

It’s understood that a great school system is comprised of a clear set of standards that all students must reach. Teachers must be the means by which the students then achieve these goals. Iowa Core does just this by unifying standards across the state. It highlights exactly what students should know in science, math, English language arts and social studies. In addition. Iowa Core has introduced more modern skills into the curriculum, including technological literacy and finances. Even though this is a statewide measure, teachers at every school still create their own lesson plans based on the goals they are given.

 

Back in 2010, the Iowa Core was already in existence but had only just merged with Common Core Standards. Once this happened, they had until the 2014-2015 school year to fully implement the change. This had led to a slow but steady shift in teaching style as well as new technology. For instance, the school district in Marion fully adopted Atlas. The online program gives them the ability to track their curricula and make sure it adheres to the Iowa standards. By full implementation, students should be able to move to different schools in the state and not feel lost.

 

Control

Even with such strict standards, teachers still have free reign over how they teach each subject. So long as the standards are met, teachers are dropping the one-size-fits-all approach that Iowa core used to have. Even still, there are some voices against the practice. They see it as a nationally fueled way to white wash education across the nation. Such opponents speak out against it, believing that education belongs in the hands of the parents that make up each state, not the federal government.

No matter the side taken, it remains a fact that Iowa is reaping the benefits of its alignment. Because teachers can now teach their classes based on the needs of the students, this higher adaptability has led to increased engagement by the students. Learning in Iowa is now student-centered.

 

Iowa Core Goals

Mainly for English language arts and math, Iowa Core has added different goals to each grade level. So long as the students can perform the task accurately, they can move on successfully to the next grade.

1st Grade: Students must be able to retell stories while maintaining the main message along with the most important plot points.

2nd Grade: All addition for single digit numbers must be memorized so students can then figure out sums of 5×5 arrays.

3rd Grade: This year is all about fractions.

4th Grade: Moving back to English, students get a strong grip on the structural differences that separate prose, poems and drama.

5th Grade: After reading and studying a text, the student must come in prepared to engage in deeper discussion regarding the themes of the work.

8th Grade: This year teaches the students spatial awareness through the use of two dimensional shapes and figuring if they align when the second has been rotate or flipped in some way.

11th & 12th Grade: The final step in literary analysis, students must choose two or more themes central to a novel and track each theme’s progress over the course of the book, taking note as to how they interact with and affect the plot.

 

If done well, Iowa Core will be the means by which the state’s students keep up with the rest of the country and the rest of the world in terms of educational prowess.