A great school system begins with a clear and rigorous set of expectations, or standards, that educators help all students reach. In Iowa, those academic standards are known as the Iowa Core. The Iowa Core standards describe what students should know and be able to do from kindergarten through 12th grade in math, science, English language arts and social studies. The Iowa Core also sets learning goals for 21st Century skills in areas such as financial and technological literacy. The Iowa Core is a set of common expectations for school districts across the state. It is not a curriculum, so decisions about how to help students meet learning goals remain in the hands of local schools and teachers.
These clear, consistent standards can provide peace of mind to parents, teachers and other stakeholders who want students to have the best education possible. The Iowa Core sets appropriate expectations for all students, regardless of where they live or what school district they attend, and reflects the real-world knowledge and skills students need to graduate from high school prepared for college or to enter the workforce.
- The Iowa Core began with a legislative effort to set consistent expectations for high schools across the state. In 2005 the state legislature passed Senate File 245, which required the Department of Education to develop a set of expectations for high school students. The Department convened work teams of AEA consultants, Department content consultants, district curriculum directors, and teachers to identify the essential concepts and skills in the content areas of Literacy, Mathematics and Science. (May 2006 Model Core Curriculum for Iowa High Schools Report to the State Board)
- Two years later, additional legislation was passed (Senate File 599 ) that extended to work to include kindergarten through eighth grade and added the content areas of social studies and 21st Century skills. (April 2008 Iowa Core Curriculum Report to the State Board)
- In 2008, the governor signed Senate File 2216 into law, which required full implementation of the Iowa Core by all public and accredited nonpublic schools. (February 2009 Iowa Core Curriculum Report to the State Board)
- As Iowa worked to develop and implement the Iowa Core, a group of states, led by their education chiefs and governors, joined to develop a set of common standards in English/language arts and mathematics. These standards, called the Common Core State Standards, were designed with three principles in mind:
- the standards had to based on evidence of college and career readiness,
- they had to have a focus to give teachers the time to teach and students the time to learn, and
- they had to maintain local flexibility and teacher judgment.
- In the spring of 2010, the Iowa State Board of Education began studying the Common Core State Standards. The State Board discovered much common ground and few differences between the Common Core standards and the Iowa Core. Also, it had become clear there would be more resources developed and available to support teachers in implementing the Common Core State Standards. As a result, the State Board adopted the Common Core, which with some information added specifically about essential concepts and skills, became the new content of the Iowa Core in literacy and mathematics.