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Schools nationwide are boosting student achievement with our coherent, cumulative, and content-specific curriculum. Find a Core Knowledge school near you. More…
How It All Started
The Core Knowledge Foundation was founded in 1986 by E. D. Hirsch, Jr., professor emeritus at the University of Virginia and author of many acclaimed books on education. More…
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Core Knowledge At a Glance
Located in Charlottesville, Virginia, the nonprofit Core Knowledge Foundation was founded in 1986 by E. D. Hirsch, Jr., professor emeritus of education and humanities at the University of Virginia. Dr. Hirsch is the author of Cultural Literacy, The Schools We Need and Why We Don’t Have Them, The Knowledge Deficit, and other books. Dr. Hirsch’s research and insights into the connection between background knowledge and reading comprehension form the basis of the Core Knowledge movement.
The Foundation is dedicated to the mission expressed in our motto, “Educational excellence and equity for all children.” Even a diverse democratic society has a common knowledge base that draws together its people while recognizing their differing contributions. The Foundation believes that access to this common knowledge base is a fundamental purpose of a sound education.
Core Knowledge Curriculum:
The Core Knowledge Sequence is a detailed outline of specific curricular content to be taught in language arts, history, geography, mathematics, science, music, and the visual arts in grades K–8. Intended to form the core of a school’s curriculum, provides a solid, coherent foundation of content knowledge, while allowing flexibility to meet local curriculum needs. The Foundation also publishes the Core Knowledge Preschool Sequence, which like the K–8 curriculum, explicitly specifies the competencies and knowledge in which all children should share.
Core Knowledge Schools:
There were 768 K-8 schools in 47 states and the District of Columbia utilizing the Core Knowledge curriculum as of the 2008-2009 school year. This includes all types of schools in all types of communities:
40% public schools
There are 85 Core Knowledge Official schools in 29 states. Core Knowledge Official schools are those schools that have self-reported implemention of at least 80% of the Core Knowledge Sequence in all grades. They have also completed all recommended professional development to achieve Official school status. In addition, there are 41 Core Knowledge Visitation sites which implement 100% of the Core Knowledge curriculum at a high level of achievement and proficiency, as documented through visits and observations by the Core Knowledge Foundation. These schools serve as models for schools considering adoption of the curriculum. In addition, there are nearly 400 Core Knowledge preschool programs, serving over 23,000 children in 43 states.
Core Knowledge Language Arts Program:
The Core Knowledge Language Arts program is a major, ongoing, research and design initiative of the Foundation. Its goal is to develop first-rate curriculum materials for language arts instruction in the critical early elementary grades. By combining exemplary skills and decoding instruction with frequent fiction and nonfiction read-alouds to build student background knowledge and language, the Core Knowledge Language Arts program aims to significantly improve reading achievement in the U.S. and narrow achievement gaps between ethnic and socio-economic groups. Beginning in the 2008-2009 school year, the program has been piloted in kindergarten through second grade classrooms in ten high-risk, low-income elementary schools in New York City. Pilot testing is also underway in seven other Core Knowledge schools in six states. (Note: The Language Arts Program is not presently available for purchase or implementation.)
The Foundation maintains an active schedule of training for teachers and administrators. Professional development workshops offered by Foundation staff and consultants include a Core Knowledge Overview, Teaching Core Knowledge, and Implementation Analysis. In addition, there are more than 10 specific professional development workshops that address the needs of preschool educators. The Foundation has conducted an average of 230 such workshops annually for the past four years.
The Core Knowledge Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization. Operating revenues are derived from the publication of educational materials, including the Core Knowledge Sequence, professional development and training workshops, and conferences. Sales of books, CDs, teacher support materials, and other products generate approximately 45 percent of the Foundation’s annual operating budget. For more information, refer to the Foundation’s annual report.
Oklahoma City Study: In 2000, a controlled study of schools in Oklahoma City, where about half the schools in the district were using Core Knowledge, showed that students exposed to Core Knowledge did significantly better than other students on both the norm-based Iowa Test of Basic Skills, and the Oklahoma Criterion Referenced tests. This study also surveyed teacher satisfaction with the curriculum and concluded that satisfaction with Core Knowledge increased the longer teachers were involved with it.
North Carolina Study: A 2004 study of North Carolina schools compared six Core Knowledge schools with more than 1300 other schools in the state. The researcher, Herbert Wahlberg of the University of Illinois at Chicago, found that Core Knowledge schools outperformed other schools in the state achievement tests in both reading and math for four of the five grades studied. “This evaluation suggests an affirmative answer to the chief question: Do Core Knowledge Schools generally excel the academic progress of other schools adjusted for individual students’ previous achievement scores and poverty and minority status,” the report concluded. “Unlike most previous curriculum evaluations, the comparison involves a huge sample, indeed, the entire population of eligible students in a state rather than a few hand-picked Core Knowledge and comparison schools,” Wahlberg noted.
Johns Hopkins Study: A five-year analysis of implementation and effects in five Maryland schools showed many positive results—especially in schools where Core Knowledge was implemented fully. The study documented how high-stakes testing influences implementation of the Core Knowledge program and showed that it is possible, “to both fully implement Core Knowledge and produce student achievement results that satisfy and even exceed state expectations.”