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How to Read the Grade Level Standards


Standards define what students should understand and be able to do.

Clusters summarize groups of related standards. Note that standards from different clusters may sometimes be closely related, because mathematics is a connected subject.

Domains are larger groups of related standards. Standards from different domains may sometimes be closely related.

Taxonomy Codes are unique, alpha-numeric identifiers for each standard.

Depth-of-Knowledge Codes are cognitive complexity codes based on Webb’s Depth-of-Knowledge that are assigned to each standard.

These Standards do not dictate curriculum or teaching methods. For example, just because topic A appears before topic B in the standards for a given grade, it does not necessarily mean that topic A must be taught before topic B. A teacher might prefer to teach topic B before topic A, or might choose to highlight connections by teaching topic A and topic B at the same time. Or, a teacher might prefer to teach a topic of his or her own choosing that leads, as a byproduct, to students reaching the standards for topics A and B.

What students can learn at any particular grade level depends upon what they have learned before. Ideally then, each standard in this document might have been phrased in the form, “Students who already know A should next come to learn B.” But at present this approach is unrealistic—not least because existing education research cannot specify all such learning pathways. Of necessity therefore, grade placements for specific topics have been made on the basis of state and international comparisons and the collective experience and collective professional judgment of educators, researchers and mathematicians. One promise of common state standards is that over time they will allow research on learning progressions to inform and improve the design of standards to a much greater extent than is possible today. Learning opportunities will continue to vary across schools and school systems, and educators should make every effort to meet the needs of individual students based on their current understanding.

These Standards are not intended to be new names for old ways of doing business. They are a call to take the next step. It is time for states to work together to build on lessons learned from two decades of standards based reforms. It is time to recognize that these standards are not just promises to our children, but promises we intend to keep.


The Role and Importance of Cognitive Complexity

The Iowa Core Standards for Mathematics are intended to play a central role in defining what teachers teach. That is, teachers are to align their instruction to the Standards. The Standards not only define the topical, procedural, and conceptual knowledge students are to learn, they also define the type of cognitive processes in which students are to engage. This is known as cognitive demand or cognitive complexity. Learn more about cognitive complexity.


Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on April 16, 2014 at 1:11am.