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Model Core Curriculum: What Does It Mean?

December 17, 2007

The Model Core Curriculum was initiated in 2006 by the Iowa legislature, under the direction of the state Department of Education and their Board of Education, as a part of Iowa’s high school redesign initiative. While the concepts in the model core curriculum resemble the standards proposed by national curriculum councils, the focus on rigor and relevance makes Iowa Model Core Curriculum unique. Core curriculum began in order to keep the fields of math, science, and literacy in the United States above all other countries, and it is rooted in the skills and concepts necessary to prepare our students for the 21st century global economy. “By 2008 the United States will have 6 million jobs for scientists, engineers and technicians, which is an increase of 51%” (1), and all those positions will not be able to be filled by United States citizens. “China graduates nine engineers to every 1 engineer the United States does” (2), and because of that fact they will become the world leaders in innovation, ideas, and large company achievement. Teachers within Iowa are studying the new rigor and relevance framework in order to address the model core. The skills students learn in this new initiative will help them to become active learners, and be able to create solutions in real-world, unpredictable situations. Cindy Winckler, Quality Learning Consultant for the Mississippi Bend Area Education (AEA), and Iowa Representative believes “It is an ongoing process that will take some time to implement, but it is the right direction to go.” Though it is too early to get solid data from the changes, the program will be continually monitored and updated in order to implement the curriculum and instruction to the fullest potential. The Mississippi Bend AEA began the high school redesign in 2005 with a 2-day presentation, and last school year the Mississippi Bend AEA worked with school districts to identify the six elements that are consistent in high performing schools. The six elements include: Collaborative Leadership, High Expectations, School Environment: Student-Focused System, Rigorous and Relevant Curriculum, Professional Development, Student Assessment and Program Evaluation. This year the Mississippi Bend AEA has been working with school teams to introduce Model Core Curriculum and lead them through a gap analysis. The Mississippi Bend AEA will continue to work with all schools in our region to offer specific sessions on each of the elements and ongoing support. It is important for students to have the opportunity to apply the concepts and skills they learn in school to real-life situations. While the Model Core Curriculum is a large undertaking, Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency is prepared to assist teachers in the development of rigorous and relevant learning opportunities for their students that will prepare our students to meet the challenges of the 21st century global economy and prepare them for the changing world of work or postsecondary educational choices.

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