Core Knowledge Sequence (CKS)

As students mature in their language fluency, the curriculum directs their time and intellectual energy into more content-based (as opposed to skill-based) aspects. The basis of these subjects from Kindergarten through 8th grade is the Core Knowledge Sequence (CKS), made available through the Core Knowledge Foundation

History of CKS

This sequence was developed and first published in 1988 to provide comprehensive order to K-8 education, with the intention of training students in the arts, literature, science, history, math, music and language from our rich cultural and intellectual inheritance and has been successfully employed and tested in hundreds of schools throughout the United States.

The Core Knowledge Sequence curriculum was chosen to assist in the learning for both advanced and disadvantaged students. Reading comprehension requires not just formal decoding skills but also a wide-range of background knowledge. Advantaged students who have had access to background knowledge and vocabulary will comprehend what a textbook or teacher is saying. 

Disadvantaged students who lack such prior knowledge will fail to understand and thus fall even further behind or struggle in school. Daniel T. Willingham explained in his article, How Knowledge Helps; It Speeds and Strengthens Reading Comprehension, Learning—and Thinking, why we believe CKS will assist all students.

Willingham explained that “chunking” items together greatly expands how much will fit into a person’s working memory. The important aspect of using background knowledge to chunk is that it leaves more free space for working memory. Utilizing CKS spiraling approach of building on previous knowledge will give all students the same background knowledge so they will all have more available working memory when taught new concepts and information. Only by specifying the knowledge that all children should share can CCA guarantee equal access to that knowledge across all subjects.

How CKS is Utilized at CCA

CKS is based upon E.D. Hirsch’s idea of cultural literacy, which makes it the ideal curriculum for a classical school. 

Providing a grade-by-grade sequence of specific topics to be taught in grades K-8, it will provide the basic curricular framework for history, geography, literature, visual arts, music, and science at CCA. With cultural literacy as the guiding principle, the Core Knowledge Sequence leads students through a comprehensive and grade-appropriate view of science, literature, art, music, and history.

Topics which are especially important for cultural literacy are repeated in a spiraling fashion that allows students to build and deepen their knowledge by grade and to make cross-curricular connections across subjects. Younger students build a firm but broad foundation in these topics while older students are able to achieve depth. 

The order of the program allows for regular repetition of the most important topics, such that students are well-versed in the fundamentals by the time they reach high school.