Interplay between Content Knowledge & Student Performance

The interplay between the acquisition of content knowledge and student performance as designated in state learning standards is the basis for effective instruction and student learning. They are related and serve as the basis of cognitive growth. Learning requires the acquisition of all types of information from literary to informational.

Free public schooling was based on preparing American youth to live and prosper in a democratic society. Education could not reside only with the wealthy; it was necessary that it be available for all. Recommended content was prescribed to assist in attaining the goal. To strengthen the process, state content standards currently exist for nearly all subjects. While content standards provided the WHAT, state learning standards address the HOW for student performance, with a clear emphasis on literary and informational reading standards.

Therefore, the initial phase of curriculum is deciding on and arraying content for all grade-level subjects. It’s not necessary to re-invent the wheel in this instance because there are many sources and guidelines to assist, as well as determining text complexity. Capturing the content in each subject and grade should be computerized within a framework that allows teachers in all grades and subjects to access it easily. This allows for review to avoid duplication and opportunities for integration, as with U.S. History and Government and grade 11 English. In addition, parents and the public should be able to know what the content is.

Knowing how best to read the content and strengthen comprehension lies within the reading standards initially identified in Common Core Reading Standards. The standards reside within three reading domains: Key Ideas and Details, Craft and Structure, and Integration of Knowledge and Ideas. The plan should be for students to embrace the standards as the means to acquiring the rich vocabulary associated with them and the manner in which they move surface reading to a deeper understanding of the text being read. From the importance of details and ideas to use of language and author’s point of view to working with visuals and relating texts, a student’s reading power is enhanced.

For these reasons, content cannot work in isolation from reading standards, nor can reading standards be taught in isolation from content. This is supported by a basis, reading rule: Content determines process. Said another way: The content selected will have much to do with the standards to be employed to comprehend it.

Dr. Bruce H. Crowder is a senior researcher for Educational Vistas, Inc. His work is primarily focused on creating pathways for deeper learning for all students through student performance and a dynamic curriculum replete with strategic teaching. Dr. Crowder may be reached at