FOCUSING ON WHAT WORKS
Once you understand the 80/20 Rule, you start looking for “80/20 Leverage Points.” These are the strategies that give you the most impact for your effort. The heart of the 80/20 rule is that the right small factors bring disproportionate results. In your classroom and in your life, you want to focus on the 20% of strategies that get 80% of the job done—not the 80% of strategies that get only 20% of the job done.
But is there a better way to find these super-effective strategies than through trial and error? If you’re looking for the leverage points in teaching, the U.S. Department of Education just did you a big favor.
The 80/20 Leverage Points for most subjects are hidden in plain sight inside Common Core! It’s not a moment too soon for most teachers, either.
Year after year, we see America fall behind in rankings of school performance. The last study by the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), which measures 15-year-old students’ grasp of math, science, and reading, ranks the United States near the bottom of industrialized countries in all three subjects.
Countries like Finland and China are eating our lunch—in part because they know what to focus on!
So where can you find the 80/20 Leverage Points in Common Core? Common Core doesn’t come out and say what they are—in fact, it gets things a little bit backwards. But once you understand what you’re looking for, they’re easy to see.
THE ANCHOR STANDARDS IN COMMON CORE: A KEYSTONE, NOT A CAPSTONE
Common Core identifies the Anchor Standards for Career and College Readiness as the end goals of education. Common Core lists these skills and says, “These are the most important things to end up learning.” But these Anchor Standards are actually the keys to their subjects. Common Core suggests that you should spend all year building up to them, but in reality you should teach them first and spend the rest of the year building off them.
Students and teachers both win by making these standards a cornerstone, rather than a capstone.
Students learn by making connections between what they already know and what they are trying to learn—starting with an understanding of the Anchor Standards, they can make connections that radiate out through the whole subject and all the other Common Core standards. They will master the content faster, perform better on standardized tests, and be more ready for college and the workplace.
And this takes a huge load off of teachers. With the right focus and students with a grounding in study skills, teachers can make progress where they used to meet resistance every step of the way.
START STRONG BY FOCUSING ON THE LEVERAGE POINTS
For all the controversy about it, Common Core offers teachers at least one critical piece of information through the Anchor Standards. They are the parts most important and the most fundamental of a subject. Stressed-out teachers drowning in new standards should take note: the Anchor Standards are the 20% of content that will make up 80% of your students’ success! If you give them to students first, then students can use them as tools to understand everything else.
Susan Kruger, M.Ed. is the founder of StudySkills.com, best-selling author of SOAR® Study Skills: A Simple & Efficient System for Getting Better Grades in Less Time. She has helped thousands of students across the country learn how to learn…efficiently and with great success! Her study skills program is used by thousands of schools and families nation-wide.
Read more about the 80/20 Rule