Harder vs. More Rigorous

During a public hearing over social studies lessons included in Texas’s CSCOPE curriculum management system, educators and members of Texas’s State Board of Education got into a discussion about the meaning of “rigor.” All agreed that giving students material that is developmentally appropriate for a higher grade may be “harder,” but is not more rigorous.  Research suggests that rigorous instructional materials:

  1. Engage students with complex but grade-appropriate, complex content,
  2. Require students to think critically about what they learn, and
  3. Ask students to solve problems linked to the real world and their own lives.

As John Bogess explains in The Three Rs Redefined for a Flat World, these attributes address the quality of student thinking and may be found in instructional materials used at any grade level and in any subject area.

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