Learning Sciences Marzano Center Launches New Model of Instruction Developed for College and Career Readiness

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The Marzano Center Essentials for Achieving Rigor model and an accompanying monograph, Teaching for Rigor, focus on critical pedagogical strategies to help students meet rigorous college and career readiness standards.

common core, college and career readiness, rigor

Robert Marzano and Michael Toth, Learning Sciences Marzano Center

To align with new standards, educators want students to live in this zone of cognitive complexity. But the evidence tells us they are barely visiting.

As a response to national reports indicating that students and teachers are not well-prepared to succeed with assessments aligned to new college and career readiness standards, Learning Sciences Marzano Center has developed a new model of instruction designed to support teachers to meet rigorous standards. The new model, Marzano Center Essentials for Achieving Rigor, was developed as a critical support for teachers to make the necessary instructional shifts to ensure that students meet and exceed college and career readiness goals.

The model focuses on 13 research-based core classroom instructional strategies to help students build the required skills—analysis, reasoning, hypothesis generation and testing, and decision-making in real-world applications—that are the basis for states’ college and career readiness standards. These strategies also clearly move toward a student-centered pedagogy, where students have increasing autonomy and responsibility for their own learning. In essence, the strategies offer a detailed map of the instructional shifts necessary for success with rigorous standards.

Standards experts have emphasized that teachers need guidance, support, coaching, and essential tools to make these instructional shifts. The Essentials for Achieving Rigor model provides a safe, evaluation-free zone in which to practice and hone classroom pedagogy aligned to rigor.

Learning Sciences International CEO Michael D. Toth says that the new model was developed in response to data that indicated the majority of teachers were rarely reaching the required level of rigor in their lessons. “Our analysis of more than 2 million data points indicates that less than 6% of observed lessons were devoted to the highest level of complex tasks involving hypothesis generation and testing,” Toth says. “To align with new standards, educators want students to live in this zone of cognitive complexity. But the evidence tells us they are barely visiting.”

A just-released paper, Teaching for Rigor: A Call for a Critical Instructional Shift, co-authored by Michael Toth and Robert J. Marzano, outlines both the background for the shift and the necessary steps to achieve it.

Dr. Marzano explains, “The Essentials for Achieving Rigor are intended to provide teachers with clear and concrete guidelines as to what they should do in their classrooms to foster deeper levels of thinking from students and deeper understanding of content than has previously been expected of them.”

Educators receiving early training in the Essentials model are enthusiastic about the instructional shifts they are witnessing. Martin County, Florida, high school principal Al Fabrizio says:

“Seeing [teacher] Laura scaffold her lessons and her rigorous approach to questioning was absolutely exciting. As we support more of our teachers moving in that direction, it’s going to directly impact student achievement. Ultimately we need to develop kids who, when they leave us, are critical thinkers and problem solvers.”

Learning Sciences Marzano Center, located in West Palm Beach, Florida, provides next-generation teacher and leadership tools and training to promote growth and achievement in K-12 education. Built on a foundation of expert research in partnership with national researcher and author Dr. Robert Marzano, the Center identifies, develops, and disseminates cutting-edge resources in educational best practices.

To download Teaching for Rigor: A Call for a Critical Instructional Shift, visit MarzanoCenter.com. In addition, check back periodically as the Marzano Center will be updating the Essentials pages with additional resources.

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James Hartnett
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