NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Study Finds "Core Knowledge" Curriculum A Real Success

May 30, 2000

A rigorous study of Oklahoma City school children found that those taught using the Core Knowledge curriculum made strong one-year academic gains compared with other pupils. Core Knowledge exposes children in each grade to a specific, challenging curriculum -- materials which in the past many teachers would have considered "developmentally inappropriate," or too advanced for their age group.

The study involved 300 pairs of pupils who were matched by race, sex, reading scores and who registered the same scores on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills -- and then compared their performance after just one year.

  • School officials report "highly significant" test differences between children taught through Core Knowledge and a comparison group taught using other methods.
  • Almost every child in the Core Knowledge group scored higher -- not just on the average, according to the findings.
  • What makes the results striking, they say, is that the advantages held for all pupils -- with gains being registered across racial and ethnic lines.

Under Core Knowledge, kindergartners are taught the seven continents of the world, and the plants in the solar system in order of their distance from the sun. Second-graders learn about ancient Greece and China and present-day Japan. Spelling lessons include such words as "pheromones" and "magnetism."

One teacher reports enthusiastically that children "enjoy learning things their parents don't necessarily know."

Source: Richard Whitmire (Gannett News Service), "Core Knowledge Boosts Scores, USA Today, May 30, 2000.


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