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Academic Rigor, the Common Core State Standards, and the AVID College Readiness System

by Dr. Ann M. Johns, & Rhea Faeldonia-Walker

Academic rigor is a common topic of discussion in educational circles on the web and in articles and books for K-12 and college administrators and teachers.  College classes require academic rigor (see Conley, 2007); thus, secondary schools explore ways to increase the rigor in their curricula in order to prepare students for their college education as well as their professions.

Now that the majority of U.S. states have adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), [1] our understanding of rigor has been refined, as articulation between grade levels and across content areas becomes the mandate for K-12 campuses.  The CCSS standards are "high, clear, and few[2], "a steep continuum of expectations" across grade levels (Calkins, Ehrenworth & Lehman, 2012) requiring close, independent, and critical reading and mature writing in the content areas as students compare texts for their themes, arguments, and development and produce papers that demonstrate their ability to "communicate clearly to an external, sometimes unfamiliar audience, and ... adopt the form and content to accomplish a particular task or purpose." (www.corestandards.org, p. 18).

Here are some questions that will be addressed in our session, Developing Cross-Curricular Literacies with Common Core, at the AVID National Conference (December 6-8).  We hope you will join us.

  1.  What are the goals and strengths of the Common Core?
  2.  What are the challenges faced by teachers, schools, and districts as they move from awareness, to transition, and finally, implementation of the CCSS?
  3. What steps can schools take to develop or enhance an academically rigorous curriculum based on the Common Core Standards and the AVID College Readiness System?  


Ann M. Johns, PhD, is Professor Emerita, Linguistics & Writing Studies, San Diego State University.  She will present with Rhea Faeldonia-Walker, English/LA Curriculum Specialist, Sweetwater Union High School District (CA).



[1] Forty-five states have adopted CCS as of fall, 2012.

[2] There are ten reading and ten writing anchor standards.  For each standard, a grade-level expectation has been developed.

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