Standards v. Curriculum

Standards v Curriculum: Preserving Freedom for Local Governments, School Districts, Teachers and Parents

The number one question raised by parents and community members alike when it comes to Common Core is: What is the difference between standards and curriculum?

Standards are expectations. For instance, we expect students to know that 2+2=4, and why. Curriculum is the program created by local school districts to teach students to learn that 2+2 =4, and why.

Standards are statements. Curriculum includes many resources: activities, lessons, units, assessments, and can include publisher textbooks.

Standards define what is to be learned by the end of a school year.  Curriculum is the detailed plan for day to day teaching.

Governor Mike Huckabee recently used a football analogy to explain the difference. An example of a standard is the game rule that you need ten yards to gain a first down. Curriculum encompasses all of the options available to the team on offense to achieve that goal.

In education terms, decisions about standards are made at the state level, defining for teachers, school leaders and parents what students are expected to know by the end of the year. Curriculum decisions, including which textbook and programs to use, are made by local districts.  Instructional decisions regarding student progress throughout the year are made in the classroom by teachers.

Common Core State Standards are standards only. If parents are concerned with the curriculum used in their child’s classroom, they should address these concerns directly with the teacher or take their concerns to the school’s principal or their local district or school board.

Parents play a critical role in ensuring appropriate materials and teaching strategies are used in the classroom. If you suspect your child is being taught using inappropriate books or asked to perform reading assignments that promote a liberal agenda, speak up!