Anyone who knows much about me knows the depth of my ties to the Iowa Core. For those who don’t:
- I was a member of the original 9-12 Literacy Writing team back when it was still the Model Core Curriculum.
- Since then, I’ve served on teams to revise, review, align, measure, study, characterize, operationalize, and more parts of the Iowa Core.
- I was a member of the Content Alignment work team.
- I co-chaired the Characteristics of Effective Instruction work team.
- I was a member of the team that recommended adoption of the Common Core.
- After Common Core adoption, I participated in the alignment study and the culling of Iowa’s 15% additions.
I understand the Iowa Core. I am an ardent supporter of the Iowa Core. However, I have been around just long enough to realize that initiatives come and go. What we now know as the Iowa Core is rooted firmly in educational truths we’ve known for years. It’s a new package for research and tried-and-true theoretical underpinnings that are not new.
Before the Iowa Core there was High School Reform, Rigor and Relevance, Assessment for Learning, Every Student Counts, Every Learner Inquires, Differentiated Instruction, Universal Design, Second Chance Reading, Learning Supports, and more. I could fill my page with a list. The true beauty of the Iowa Core has been its ability to unify and interconnect, while providing a common language, common definitions, and a common vision.
While the Iowa Core is not perfect, it has laid a foundation for explosive statewide growth like we’ve never seen before. We’re suddenly able to talk across district lines about true rigor, about developing conceptual and procedural knowledge, about developing the skills and dispositions of the 21st century. The innovation and collaboration happening across this state is not happening by chance. The Iowa Core has been the catalyst.
With all that said, I’ll repeat this sentiment—Initiatives come and go. It is both our right and our responsibility to ensure that what remains is that which matters. Guard yourself in times of transition. Keep your focus on what matters.
The Iowa Core is not that blue and yellow logo. It isn’t even the name Iowa Core—that’s changed a few times, if you recall. The Iowa Core is about effective leadership, meaningful community engagement, continuous improvement, aligned systems, professional development, and high quality instruction. Its essence is our commitment to ensure that each and every student develops the concepts, skills, and dispositions that will open the door to success in life outside the four walls of the classroom.
Find a way to steel yourself in times of change. Be sure you’ve got the right stakes in the ground as the winds of change blow around you. I, for one, will be taking some time to get reacquainted with old friends like Dewey, Vygotsky, Piaget, and Maslow. Those guys always keep me grounded in what matters most.