Let’s clarify: Standards or curriculum?

Whether you love the Common Core or hate the Common Core, recent debates about an unclear, frustrating math problem have led to confusion in more than just math. The terminology used in these debates often interchanges the terms standards and curriculum, which are two distinct aspects of the discussion.

Standards, grade-level expectations, are “the end” while curriculum is “the means.” States decide on standards, while curriculum is chosen or created by local districts. See how the Common Core addresses this myth about implementation:


In Confusing Math Homework? Don’t Blame the Common Core, Jessica Lahey dives deeper into the difference between the standards and curriculum in the context of math. Lahey points out that while the Common Core has been implemented in all but five states, the decisions on how to teach the standards (a curriculum) remain local.

Is the distinction between standards and curriculum clearly stated in the debates you’re hearing and reading about?