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Core Knowledge




Evidence of Effectiveness:


Oklahoma City – May 2000


In May 2000, administrators completed the first stage of a controlled, independent study of the effects of Core Knowledge in public schools in Oklahoma City, where 32 of 67 elementary schools have implemented the curriculum. 


The Oklahoma City study examined the effects of implementing one year of Core Knowledge in grades 3, 4, and 5 using the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS).  The study paired 300 Core Knowledge students with 300 students having the same characteristics on seven variables:  grade level, pre-score, sex, race/ethnicity, free-lunch eligibility, Title I eligibility, and special education eligibility. 


Findings showed the Core Knowledge students made significantly greater one-year gains in reading comprehension, vocabulary, science, math concepts, and social studies.  The greatest gains – in reading vocabulary, and social studies – were computed to be statistically significant. 


John Hopkins University and University of Memphis Studies


In 1999, a three-year study of Core Knowledge schools across the country conducted by researchers at John Hopkins University and the University of Memphis concluded that, when the Core Knowledge Sequence is fully implemented, it works.  Researchers found that students at schools where more than 50 percent of classrooms used the Sequence had high scores on norm-referenced tests and on criterion-referenced tests of Core Knowledge topics than students at comparison schools.  The report calls the academic gains “educationally meaningful.” 


A separate study by some of the same researchers looked at student performance in Maryland Core Knowledge schools.  This study found that third graders in Core Knowledge schools made significantly greater three-year gains than students in control schools and students throughout the state.  Core knowledge students outperformed statewide averages in all six areas of the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program (MSPAP).  The largest gains against the state average on the MSPAP were in writing (+10.5%), reading (+8.6%), and language (+7.4%), but gains were also reported in math (+5.9%), social studies (+5.2%), and science (+5.1%). 


Virginia – Albemarle County Schools


In 1996, a statistical analysis commissioned by the Albemarle County Schools reported results that support the Core Knowledge idea that a strong core curriculum can help narrow the performance gap between students of low socioeconomic status and others.  At Cale Elementary, the only Core Knowledge school in the Albemarle County district, about 35% of the students receive free or reduced lunch rates.  Results of the study indicate that most of the district’s elementary schools performed within their predicted range on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills test.  Only one school, Cale Elementary, performed significantly above what would be predicted by the socioeconomic composition of its students.


Program Description:


The Core Knowledge Sequence is currently being used in more than 1,000 schools in 46 states.  The grounding of the Core Knowledge Sequence comes from models of instruction from around the world where it has been established that a clearly defined core curriculum that articulates a coherent, solid, and specific sequence of knowledge achieves greater equity and fairness for all students.


Core Knowledge fosters greater equity and excellence by:


·         Increasing academic performance as demonstrated on national standardized and state-developed criterion referenced tests.

·         Helping to narrow the gap between academic Ahaves@ and Ahave-nots@

·         Building a consensus between teachers, parents, and administrators


In order to help students establish strong foundations for higher levels of learning, Core Knowledge offers a solid, specific, shared body of knowledge in preschool through grade eight.  The Core Knowledge Sequence contains the grade-by-grade topics for language areas, mathematics, history, geography, science, visual arts and music.  It serves as the planning document in Core Knowledge classrooms and it is intended to comprise at least 50% of a school=s curriculum for the elementary and middle school grades.  The Sequence is organized to introduce topics in the early grades then creates a spiraling effect by returning to the topics in greater depth in later grades. 


The original draft sequence was developed through an extensive process of research examining national core curricula from other countries, national standards reports, state and district guidelines as well as consulting content experts in each of the subject areas.  An advisory board of multi-cultural traditions was established to offer recommendations of important people, events and literature.


Consensus was built among groups that represented parents, teachers, scientists, content experts, and professional curriculum organizations, it was then field-tested in classrooms across the United States which served a student population with diverse needs, abilities and learning styles.


The Sequence has been used with a wide variety of pedagogy and its structure allows teachers to make the professional decisions necessary to effectively teach according to the needs of individual students.


A school that adopts the Core Knowledge Sequence makes a commitment to teach all of the topics on the grade levels assigned.  This ensures the sequential and spiraling development of knowledge and understanding needed for higher levels of learning.  How the topics are taught and what materials are used to teach the topics are decisions that are made at the local level.


The Core Knowledge Foundation offers training and ongoing support.  Lesson plans and other resources are available to assist the schools in developing their school-wide plan for instruction.  New materials are constantly being developed and are made available via the Internet or through Foundation publications.



Aspects of Reading


This program addresses the following aspects of reading:


·         Phonemic Awareness  ü

·         Phonics ü

·         Fluency ü

·         Vocabulary ü

·         Comprehension ü

·         Motivation










Correlation to Nevada State Standards


As part of professional development, correlation of the program to state standards is completed by school staff.


Teacher Support:


Initial Training:  Initial training consists of five day on-site intensive training for all teachers and administrators.  The five days are spread over the first year of implementation.  Training includes an overview of Core Knowledge and strategies for getting started (including development of a school-wide implementation plan, the development of a month-by-month plan, and time for Developing Core Knowledge lessons and assessments). 


Follow-Up Coaching:  Follow-up visits are an integral part of the professional development plan.  Three two-day on-site visits and assistance are required. 


Program Implementation:  The Core Knowledge Sequence is designed to take a minimum of 50% of the instruction time with a curriculum framework that specifies content required in each grade level. 


Required School Commitment:


The school must obtain commitment of at least 80% of the teachers who will be involved in implementation of the program.


Equipment Requirements:


Core Knowledge Schools make individual decisions about the use of technology and other tools that aid in the teaching and learning process.  There is no requirement that certain technology or equipment be used with instruction.




The first-year cost of adopting Core Knowledge for a school with 25 teachers is approximately $30,000 for professional development time.  Schools will need additional funds to purchase resources and the Core Knowledge Curriculum-Referenced Tests.  Instructional materials are also required, such as books, maps and videotapes. 

For Information Contact:


Connie Jones, President                            Yolanda Van Ness, Grant Support Coordinator

Core Knowledge Foundation                     Core Knowledge Foundation      

801 East High Street                                801 East High Street

Charlottesville, VA 22902                         Charlottesville, VA 22902

Phone: (800) 238-3233 x232                     Phone:  (210) 408-9219

                                                             E-mail:  yvancore@aol.com


Current Location in Nevada:


White Pine County School District

Implemented District-Wide in August 1998 for

Grades K-5.  Grades 6-8 were added in August 1999.

Contact: Mark Shellinger, Superintendent

Phone: (775) 289-4851