An important distinction needs to be made between standards — which outline what students should know and be able to do at each grade level — and curriculum — which is what happens day to day and week to week in classrooms. Standards remain constant, but curriculum can be altered year to year or classroom to classroom to ensure students are meeting the learning goals.

Let me illustrate with examples from three high-performing, high-poverty schools in three different states. I asked them to share with me lessons they had developed to meet three of Common Core’s reading and language arts standards, which say that fifth-graders should know how to:

  • Use a dictionary and other reference materials.

  • Identify the main ideas and supporting details of a text.

  • Cite evidence to support an answer.

To learn more about these in-school examples, read the full op-ed, “Understanding the Difference Between Curriculum and Standards,” in the McClatchy-Tribune News Service.