How the 80/20 Principle Simplifies Common Core

Last week, I wrote about the universal law of nature that can make all of us far more productive, the 80/20 Principle. There are many different ways to leverage 80/20 in education.

Common Core 80-20

The Anchor Standards are the most valuable 20% of Common Core that will make 80% of the impact on your students.

You may find this surprising (I certainly did!) but the Common Core has clearly identified its 80/20 leverage point…the Anchor Standards.

What Are the Common Core Anchor Standards? identifies them as “the culmination…of K-12 standards [that] ensure all students are college and career ready.”

Anchor Standards are “within” the common core state standards. The Anchor standards are not an additional requirement… they are the “broadest-level” description of the outcomes students should demonstrate.  Anchor standards are the “big picture.”

Each Anchor Standard is an answer to the question… “What should a college student and career-ready person be able to do in the 21st century?” The common core state standards are very specific. Whereas Anchor Standards describe the over-arching goal.

The Anchor Standards apply across grades and content areas. Anchor Standards are focused on college and career readiness. The grade-specific CCSS describe what a student should be able to do at the end of any given grade.

Anchor Standards are the 80/20 of Common Core!

They list the outcomes of learning and communication skills that students will need for life.

For instance, Anchor Standard CCRA.R1: Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

Clearly this is describing a skill students need throughout their college and professional careers. This is a study skill/soft skill that is essential to further their careers.

There is no curriculum for the Common Core or the Anchor Standards. Which is a blessing that you as a teacher have the freedom to craft your lessons in the way to best suit your kids.

BUT this can be a daunting task of researching, gaining materials, and lesson planning. This is where SOAR comes in. We are unveiling our new and improved book that aligns with every Anchor Standard.

The Anchor Standards are the “ultimate outcomes” for each of the four main divisions of language.  All other grade-level standards directly tie into the Anchor Standards and are intended to “build up” to those final outcomes.

80/20 turns that notion upside down and says, “Teach the anchor standards FIRST!”  Then, students will know how to access all of the other Common Core standards. When students know how to access content, the friction between the learner and new content is eliminated.

Students FIRST need the skills to achieve the outcomes of the Anchor Standards.  THEN, they can practice applying these skills to the more specific content in the Common Core and other curriculum areas.

This process has many important benefits:

1. Students perform much better on standardized tests.  Now that students know how to learn, they are able to learn more content, much faster, with long-term retention.  (That content will now “stick” for testing season.)

2. Students will be ready for college and the workplace.  The continued “application” of these skills in various content-areas and situations is perfect practice for college and workplace expectations.

3. Teachers have less stress.  With the self-management and learning skills learned in SOAR, students are empowered. Teachers have more energy because they are doing much less “nagging”.

4. Teachers feel more effective.  Since these skills release all sorts of resistance from students (who are now more organized and prepared to learn strategically), teachers can focus on…teaching!  (Not nagging, prodding, and feeling eternally ineffective.)

Will you be the hero for your school and introduce the most valuable 20% of Common Core that will make 80% of the impact on your students?

The SOAR® Soft Skills book covers 100% of the Common Core Anchor Standards! It is still the same quality program, highly regarded for years.  All we did is add two chapters and make a few updates to technology resources…and we now cover 100% of the Common Core Anchor Standards.  The SOAR® Study Skills Curriculum is a fit for 6th grade and up.  The transition years of 6th-9th grade are an ideal time to introduce SOAR®.  For more information, please click here.


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