All teachers want their students’ achievement levels to increase. Small group instruction and cooperative learning have a significant impact on student achievement (Hattie, 2009) and are widely used in elementary classrooms. Many middle and high school teachers are increasingly using these structures in other content areas. However, prior to implementing small group instruction teachers often have questions to be answered.

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By Linda Diamond and Michelle Rodriguez

Numerous recent reports cite the difference in student learning that an effective curriculum can make. These reports include Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Studies, StandardsWork, Curriculum Research: What We Know and Where We Need to Go; Ashley Berner’s report in Thomas Fordham Institute’s Flypaper, August 2018; and Brookings report by Morgan Polikoff,, June 2018. After 25 years of working with school districts to help them select and implement high-quality curriculum, we agree. However, only a couple reports, the Economic Studies Brookings Report by Morgan Polikoff and Ashley Berner’s report, address a critical difficulty—ensuring teachers have sufficient content and curriculum knowledge to use and implement a standards-based curriculum with fidelity.

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Students with disabilities are not making the achievement gains they should make. The achievement gap between students with disabilities and students without disabilities has remained largely unchanged despite adaptive technologies and supposedly research-based methods. But we can improve outcomes for special education students by significantly improving general education and special education together.

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In addition to the Supreme Court Ruling on Special Education, Dyslexia is now a national focus. Through reading professional learning, districts can equip teachers with the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively support dyslexic students.

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CORE’s Excellence in Education Blog post this month is on the impact of the Supreme Court’s Unanimous Ruling on Special Education, setting a higher standard for students with disabilities.

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CORE’s Excellence in Education Blog post this month chronicles one district’s journey toward a sustained and deep commitment to reading professional learning and development. See what can happen when a district and CORE work together to provide reading professional learning to support teachers and administrators across a system.

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Read CORE CEO Linda Diamond’s Ed Week commentary on the Common Core

A new disorder seems to have swept the nation: Common Core State Standards Syndrome. This malady is characterized by sharply polarized positions—worshiping the common core as schools’ salvation, or condemning it as on the path to Armageddon. The clinical manifestation is similar: op-eds in newspapers (“Common Core Education Is Uncommonly Inadequate,” The Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2013) or editorials (“Moving Ahead With Common Core,” The New York Times, April 20, 2013), impassioned blogs, and spirited tweets.

Entire states exhibit symptoms as well, embracing the standards one year and threatening to dump them the next. READ MORE