Pathways to the Common Core


Chris’ second book, the New York Times Best-Selling Pathways to the Common Core: Accelerating Achievement, co-authored with Lucy Calkin and Mary Eherenworth

Sample Chapters: Sample Chapters from Pathways to the Common Core

Our Study Guide: Study Guide for Pathways to the Common Core

“As challenging as it must have been to write and finesse the adoption of the Common Core State Standards, that accomplishment is nothing compared to the work of teaching in ways that bring all students to these ambitious expectations. The goal is clear. The pathway is not.”

—Lucy Calkins, Mary Ehrenworth, and Christopher Lehman

The Common Core is written, but the plan for implementing the Common Core is not.

Lucy Calkins and her colleagues at the Reading and Writing Project have helped thousands of educators design their own pathways to the Common Core. Now, with Pathways to the Common Core, they are ready to help you find your way.

Designed for teachers, school leaders, and professional learning communities looking to navigate the gap between their current literacy practices and the ideals of the Common Core, Pathways to the Common Core will help you:
* understand what the standards say, suggest, and what they don’t say;
* recognize the guiding principles that underpin the reading and writing standards;
* identify how the Common Core’s infrastructure supports a spiraling K–12 literacy curriculum; and
* scrutinize the context in which the CCSS were written and are being unrolled.

In addition to offering an analytical study of the standards, this guide will also help you and your colleagues implement the standards in ways that lift the level of teaching and learning throughout your school. Specifically, it will help you:
* become a more critical consumer of the “standards-based” mandates that are flooding your desk;
* craft instruction that supports students in reading more complex texts, developing higher level
comprehension skills, and writing at the ambitious levels of the CCSS;
* develop performance assessments and other tools to propel Common Core reforms; and
* create systems of continuous improvement that are transparent, collegial, and accountable.

Above all, this book will help you interpret the Common Core as a rallying cry that ignites deep, wide and lasting reforms and, most importantly, accelerates student achievement.


I love Pathways to the Common Core! The way it explains how the standards work will correct many misconceptions and go a long way toward changing literacy instruction for the better, a primary intent of the standards. It will help people know how to read the standards, and will help teachers see how they already address this new view of comprehension and what more they need to do. This book is an amazing reference for any teacher working to accelerate student achievement, and it is a must-read for those facing the challenge levels of the Common Core State Standards.
 Sally Hampton, member of the writing team for the Common Core ELA standards and member of the Pearson Foundation curriculum design team

With piercing insights, Calkins, Ehrenworth, and Lehman dive deep into the CCSS to debunk myths, extract meaning, and provide needed guidance for each and every standard.Pathways to the Common Core is a necessity for the principal, curriculum leader, professional developer, and teacher seeking a thorough analysis of the standards from which to launch an informed approach to this critical initiative.
— Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs, author, consultant, and director of the Curriculum 21 Project

Teachers across the country yearn for a road map to navigate the Common Core State Standards. Search no more. Pathways to the Common Core is the CCSS GPS. The authors do a thorough, extensive analysis of every aspect of the ELA CCSS. Pathwayscharts a course for effective, thoughtful teaching and top-notch student learning. I was blown away by this smart, artful, enthralling book.
 Stephanie Harvey, educator and co-author of the Comprehension Toolkit series

While acknowledging the ambivalence swirling around the Common Core State Standards,Pathways to the Common Core takes a proactive stance, encouraging us to scrutinize the standards carefully and accept the challenge to raise expectations for all children’s literacy learning. It reminds us that it is up to schools and districts to decide how to implement the standards and choose our own way forward.
— Ellin Keene, consultant and author of Talk About Understanding

I began reading Pathways to the Common Core in my favorite chair, music playing, dinner cooking on the stove. “I’ll just read a couple of chapters,” I thought. I finished the book hours later, sitting at my desk, a legal pad filled with notes of all I had learned, and hungry for conversation with colleagues (and for dinner that had long-ago burned). Pathways to the Common Core sets you on a path for thinking more deeply about the standards, for teaching more inventively with the standards, and for helping students achieve the goals of the standards.
— Kylene Beers, consultant and author of When Kids Can’t Read

The success of the Common Core State Standards will depend largely on how teachers implement them and whether they are able to resist narrow interpretations that could lead to increased failure rates and achievement gaps. In the hands of informed teachers the standards could promote deeper thinking and higher classroom performance. ReadPathways to the Common Core and be informed.
 Tom Corcoran, Co-director of CPRE, Teachers College

The Common Core State Standards are here and, as with any new initiative, there are the inevitable questions and concerns, debate and discontent. Pathways to the Common Coredoes not take sides; rather, the authors acknowledge the range of opinions swarming around the CCSS and wisely focus their energy on making sense of the standards. They provide a clear examination of what is and isn’t stated and then invite us to seize this opportunity to reflect on our practice and to become “co-constructors of the future of instruction and curriculum.” Let’s take up that challenge.
— Lester L. Laminack, author, educator, consultant

Calkins, Ehrenworth, and Lehman have taken up the challenge of the Common Core standards in a most valuable way. Pathways to the Common Core provides a context for teachers and administrators to advance productive instructional strategies while offering the critical language and logic needed to stand up to unfortunate interpretations and nonsense.
— Peter Johnston, Professor, The University at Albany

Pathways to the Common Core invites teachers and principals to welcome the Common Core standards and take them seriously, while recognizing them as a substantial challenge to business as usual. It offers wise advice on how to move ahead, building on strength and engaging the entire school community in a joint effort of continuous improvement. The authors know no one yet has all the answers for reaching such ambitious goals, and suggest deep suspicion of anyone who claims otherwise. It is must reading for responsible educators, and it wouldn’t hurt if policymakers took a look as well.
— Fritz Mosher, Senior Research Consultant, Consortium for Policy Research in Education and the Center for Continuous Instructional Improvement

I love it when I sit down to view a table of contents and end up reading the whole book.Pathways to the Common Core is the most useful unpacking of the Common Core State Standards available to date. Lucy, Mary, and Chris help us understand what the standards emphasize and how this emphasis might lead us down different paths of instruction than we’ve taken before. With generous wisdom and experience, they help us keep one eye on rigor and the other on meaningful reading and writing.
— Gretchen Owocki, Ph.D., Director, Reading and Writing Clinic, Saginaw Valley State University

Some of our most valuable resources in supporting a child’s journey toward college and career readiness are the teachers who propel that journey. If the standards specify what every child needs to know and be able to do to be college or career ready, then Pathways to the Common Core specifies what every educator needs to know and be able to do to implement the ELA standards effectively.
— Meghan Berry, CPS, K–5 Writing Content Lead, Office of Reading and Language Arts, Chicago

While the standards may be daunting and technical, I am inspired by the way Pathways to the Common Core eases the reader through the concerns we all feel and supports us as we come together to take an honest look at our instructional practices and create systems that will accelerate student achievement. This book is encouraging and supportive; I feel prepared to roll up my sleeves and get to work alongside my staff.
 Liz Tetreault, Principal, Port Salerno Elementary School, FL

Combining research, experience, and common sense, Pathways to the Common Core is a GPS providing step-by-step navigation through the new Common Core standards. It is a must-read for teachers, administrators, and instructional leaders looking to effectively implement the standards.
— Dr. Tom Bulla, Director of Elementary Education, Union County Public Schools, NC

Pathways to the Common Core is a road map for school leaders and teachers looking to navigate the bends and twists encountered in implementing the Common Core State Standards. It is the perfect blend of instructional theory and classroom practice. This book has already become my most important resource.
— Christine Capaci, Principal, West Windsor–Plainsboro Regional School District, Village School, NJ

If after reading, rereading, and discussing the CCSS you continue to grapple with how they change or support current practices in your district, school, or classroom, read Pathways to the Common Core. Follow Lucy, Mary, and Christopher’s critical examination of the standards and you will be empowered to approach curricular alignment with richer perspective, clearer purpose, and greater confidence.
— Rochelle DeMuccio, Coordinator ELA and Reading, Half Hollow Hills Schools, NY

At last—a book that inspires educators to raise their sights above the politics of the Common Core and focus instead on the unprecedented opportunity these new standards create. Loaded with practical examples, Pathways to the Common Core provides detailed explanations of the standards and thoughtful considerations for implementation. It will propel educators toward the rigorous, ambitious teaching that can truly accelerate student achievement.
— Dr. Erin McGurk, Director of Educational Services, Ellington Public Schools, CT

Lucy, Mary, and Christopher take us on an intellectual journey inside the Common Core State Standards, pausing to examine each standard with the eyes of teachers in real classrooms. Brilliant and accessible, Pathways to the Common Core gives a voice to our profession and invites us to reflect on the Common Core State Standards as an opportunity for collaboration and celebration.
— Lydia Bellino, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, Cold Spring Harbor Central School District, NY

Once again Lucy and the Reading & Writing Project blaze a trail for us all—this time as we enter the new terrain of the Common Core. Pathways to the Common Core helps teachers recognize that this work is not new; rather, it takes what we have already been doing and provides a road map for ways to make the work deeper and more rigorous.
— Phyllis Harrington, Ed.D., Superintendent, Oyster Bay–East Norwich Central School District, NY

Lucy, Mary, and Chris have decrypted the CCSS. Pathways to the Common Core is a must-have addition to every educator’s library.
— Vincent M. Iturralde, Principal, Tarkington School of Excellence, Chicago

Engaging and intriguing, Pathways to the Common Core reads like a novel. You won’t want to put it down.
— Sheila R. Cole, Ed.D, Principal, Franklin School, NJ

Pathways to the Common Core
 is not a love letter to the CCSS; instead, it is a critical dissection of the standards focusing on what they include, what they marginalize, what is neglected, and what is ineffective. It shows what the standards look like in practice.
— Terrence P. Carter, Ph.D., Curriculum & Instruction Department, Academy for Urban School
Leadership, National Teachers Academy, Chicago

An invaluable guide for systemically implementing the Common Core standards, Pathways to the Common Core is a must-read for educators interested in accelerating student learning and engaging in true school reform.
— Gaeton (Guy) Stella, Ph.D., Superintendent, Woodbridge School District, CT

Providing substantive and practical strategies for successfully implementing the CCSS,Pathways to the Common Core will become the resource for fostering shared professional study around the Common Core.
— Kelly Newman, Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education, Great Neck Public Schools, NY

This provocative guide is an invaluable resource for understanding the Common Core State Standards and the pathways that can be taken to achieve its ambitious expectations. If the CCSS tell us what students are expected to know and be able to do, Pathways to the Common Core frames the discourse and sheds light on existing disputes as it guides educational practitioners away from any interpretation that goes against the standards’ emphasis on independency and proficiency.
— Davide Celoria, Ed.D., Associate Superintendent, Pacifica School District, CA


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