A Common Core theme: Coherence

Mar 06, 2013
K-8 Publishers’ Criteria for the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics The Common Core State Standards give us a chance to take a bird’s eye view of education and instruction — to think about the COHERENCE of the system we have in place. How does what a child learns in kindergarten relate to what he or she will learn in 9th grade? How does what a student learns in an ELA classroom relate to social studies? How does what a student learns in class relate to what he or she reads in a book at home? And most importantly, how does each piece fit into the puzzle that is readiness for college or a career or a happy life? The term “coherence” is all over the math standards; it’s one of the key” shifts” in math instruction the authors are pushing. The thinking is that math is a complex system where one principle leads to the next, then the next, and so on. You can’t skip over one. And with each new layer, a student’s understanding gets deeper and more proficient. So the authors have built a new progression of content from one grade level to the next. The Publishers Criteria for math says this: “Coherence is about making math make sense. Mathematics is not a list of disconnected tricks of mnemonics.” I think it’s useful to think about coherence beyond the math standards too. To write the standards, the authors started with the end point of “college and career readiness” and then attempted to build a coherent progression toward that goal. So, in theory, reading and science and all other subjects ought to be part of that progression as well. Everything is related. Everything is linked. And shouldn’t learning at home and during the summer and before kindergarten be part of a coherent system as well? I think that’s an important conversation we all should have. Do you think the Common Core standards are a step towards greater coherence, or a step back?