Posted by: School Improvement Network
The Common Core Standards are woven into clear and developmentally aligned learning progressions that chart a course from kindergarten through college readiness. A learning progression is a sequenced set of aligned standards that students must master in order to graduate prepared for life beyond school.
The Common Core Standards reflect a spiraling progression that is sequential and yet recursive. As students make progress, the learning targets do not change essentially, but continue to expand in breadth and depth, allowing teachers and students multiple opportunities to develop the knowledge and skills defined by the standards.
The long-term goal of the Common Core Standards is college and career readiness. After creators of the core standards defined college and career readiness, incremental steps towards skill mastery were assigned to each academic level all the way back to kindergarten. At each level, the standards build on what has been learned in previous grades. In order to master the eighth grade standards, for example, a student must have attained mastery of the kindergarten through seventh grade standards. Upon mastering the standards of eighth grade, the student will be adequately prepared for success in ninth grade and beyond.
The learning map helps students deepen their knowledge and skills in given areas, but this recursive spiral does more than that: it gives a purpose to the material and skills that students are learning. As they return to the same skill sets at a deeper level each year, students realize the importance and applicability of these recurring lessons and skill sets.
As we said in a previous post, the goal of learning is to prepare students for the future. The backward mapping of skill sets and the reinforcing lessons of the learning progression make education meaningful. As students perceive greater purpose and direction in their education, they begin to invest more in their education. It’s not a magic solution, but it begins to lay the foundations for meaningful learning.