Common Core in Iowa

 Iowa Core Standards Website with parent guides in English and Spanish

One central component of a great school system is a clear set of expectations, or standards, that educators help all students reach. In Iowa, that effort is known as the Iowa Core.

The Iowa Core represents our statewide academic standards, which describe what students should know and be able to do in math, science, English language arts and social studies. The Iowa Core also addresses 21st century skills in areas such as financial and technology literacy.

These state standards provide Iowa students, parents, teachers, and other stakeholders with a clear, common understanding of what students are expected to learn at every grade level, regardless of where they live.

The standards establish what Iowa students need to learn, but not how to teach. Local schools and teachers continue to create lesson plans and tailor instruction to fit the needs of their students.

What the Common Core IS NOT:

  • The Common Core is not a federally driven initiative to force all schools to teach the same lesson plans, use the same textbooks, or to undermine the creativity of teaching professionals. The Common Core was developed by a coalition of states led by governors and state education chiefs through their membership in the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.
  • The Common Core was not developed and implemented in secret. Forty-eight states took part in the development, drawing on the expertise of content specialists, teachers, school administrators, and parents. The process was open for public comment, and more than 10,000 comments were received. The standards were created for voluntary adoption in states through their own unique processes. In Iowa, the standards were discussed and adopted by the State Board of Education at public meetings in 2010.
  • The Common Core will not lead to the sharing of massive amounts of personal student data, such as religious practices and political beliefs. The Iowa Department of Education collects information on student populations, demographics and achievement results to learn how schools in Iowa are changing, to follow the academic progress of students from preschool to high school, and to guide efforts to improve our education system. Students are not identified by name, and student-level data is not shared with the federal government.
  • Iowa is not receiving federal funding to implement the Common Core as part of the Iowa Core and would lose no federal money if the state stopped using the Common Core. 
  • The Common Core is not a one-size-fits-all approach that undermines local schools or assumes every student learns the same way. The standards give students, parents, and teachers a clear, common understanding of what students need to learn at every grade level, but does not dictate how to teach. Each Iowa school district decides what curriculum to use to deliver the Iowa Core, and Iowa teachers design and develop the lessons used in their classrooms. Modifications to the standards may be made for special education students based on their individual learning needs. States also can build on the Common Core to set even higher standards.

Source: Iowa Department of Education website