Finding Overlap in the Common Math, Language Arts, and Science Standards

By Liana Loewus — October 01, 2014 2 min read
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A few years ago, Tina Cheuk, a project manager for the Understanding Language initiative at Stanford University, woke up one morning, printed out several new sets of standards, and started cutting.

“I was frustrated,” she said in a phone interview yesterday. Looking at the Common Core State Standards in English/language arts and math, along with the framework that would become the Next Generation Science Standards, she said, “I felt overwhelmed. And that was my full-time job looking at standards.”

Cheuk, a former teacher, saw patterns in the standards and began organizing them accordingly. She focused on what she calls the “practice standards,” which outline the skills demonstrated by proficient students. (She took them from the common core’s Standards for Mathematical Practice; the descriptions of literate students’ “capacities” in the language arts common standards; the guidelines for developing English-language-proficiency standards that correspond to the common core, developed by the Council of Chief State School Officers; and the NGSS’ science and engineering practices.)

She came up with this Venn diagram, which shows how the practice standards overlap (you can also find it, with a key, here):

With the common standards, “there are changes in the content—it’s deeper, more focused—but it’s these practices I think that are going to move our students,” Cheuk said. However, she offers the caveat that the language used in the above standards can mean different things in different disciplines. For instance, evidence in science class is not the same as evidence in language arts. “It’s not perfect,” she said of the diagram. “It’s meant to start the conversation.”

The diagram is not exactly new—it was last updated over a year ago. But I happened on it yesterday myself through the Tweet below, in which a self-described educator uses the diagram as an argument for more states to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards. So far 12 states and the District of Columbia have signed on to use the new science standards, which emphasize application, inquiry, and engineering design.

As more states consider NGSS adoption, it will be interesting to see if this argument—that the science standards dovetail with the common core, which all but four states initially adopted—gains prominence.

In the meantime, I thought the resource was worth sharing (again), especially for those educators who are implementing the new standards and sympathize with feeling “overwhelmed.”

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.