About Core Knowledge Charter School (CKCS)

Verona Area Core Knowledge Charter School (CKCS) is a public school option in the Verona Area School District.

CKCS integrates effective traditional and contemporary teaching methods to create a dynamic learning environment for all students.

We use the Core Knowledge Sequence (K-8) and Direct Instruction (K-5) programs for our curriculum.

What is the Core Knowledge Sequence?

The Core Knowledge curriculum focuses on core academics and teaches a wide knowledge base of history, geography, science, art, literature, computer skills, music, math, and language arts.


The Core Knowledge curriculum is based on University of Virginia English professor E.D. Hirsch's research. While conducting research for his acclaimed book, Cultural Literacy, Hirsch found that students are more successful in their studies when they work from a common base of both facts and ideas. A literate society, he stressed, needs a strong background of core knowledge that crosses generations and enables people to communicate effectively. Hirsch found that this is true for all levels of ability and all socioeconomic backgrounds.

The Core Knowledge Sequence is a detailed and systematic curriculum content guide for each grade level that can be taught consistently year by year. This core content is organized to circle through grade levels, becoming more sophisticated and detailed in each successive grade. Created with the help of a large number of professionals, it represents a consensus of diverse groups and interests.

What is Direct Instruction?

Direct Instruction is a teaching method based on the belief that every child can learn when the instruction is appropriate, and that the failure of a child to learn should point to a system failure, not the child. As the name suggests, teachers direct the instruction in their classrooms by modeling specific skills and strategies.  Students practice these skills and strategies, and then learn how to apply them in a wide variety of situations. With Direct Instruction, every child is an active participant throughout each lesson, not just when it's his or her turn. The result is a high-energy classroom in which learning is vigorous, active and constant.

Throughout this process the emphasis of instruction shifts from teacher-directed practice to fully independent student application.  The focus is on helping students master the skills at each phase, so teaching to mastery is a critical component built into the design of the curriculum.

The ultimate goal of our instruction is independent application of knowledge. The CKCS philosophy is that a student's self-esteem is a product of his or her achievement in this process. The Direct Instruction method is supported by research to be a very effective, efficient way to teach new skills and concepts.

Direct Instruction used in K-5 reading, spelling, written language and math go hand-in-hand with the Core Knowledge Sequence.

Watch the video "Helping Kids Soar" (below, 16 minutes) produced by the National Institute for Direct Instruction:



Helping Kids Soar from NIFDI on Vimeo.

Flexible Instructional Groups

From Kindergarten through 5th Grade, CKCS schedules reading, math and spelling at the same time in each room, allowing for flexible instructional grouping across grade levels. Students are placed into groups according to their skills mastery level. These groups are flexible according to students' demonstrated skill level and the students' progress throughout the school year. In Middle School, we run instructional groups for math.

See For Yourself

If you are interested in visiting Core Knowledge Charter School, please contact our Director/Principal, Rick Kisting at (608) 845-4133 or rick.kisting@verona.k12.wi.us to schedule an appointment.