Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Which Standards Are These, Again?

One of the more hilarious/pathetic features of the Common Core draft standards is internal confusion about what subjects they're supposed to address. The website says "English Language Arts Standards." The linked PDF says "Reading, Writing, and Speaking and Listening" (yes, that's how it is phrased) and:

The Core Standards identify essential college- and career-ready skills and knowledge in reading, writing, and speaking and listening across the disciplines. While the English language arts classroom has often been seen as the proper site for literacy instruction, this document acknowledges that the responsibility for teaching such skills must also extend to the other content areas. Teachers in the social and natural sciences, the humanities, and mathematics need to use their content area expertise to help students acquire the discipline-specific skills necessary to comprehend challenging texts and develop deep knowledge in those fields. At the same time, English language arts teachers not only must engage their students in a rich array of literature but also must help develop their students’ ability to read complex works of nonfiction independently.

In any case, this illustrates the rushed, slip-shod nature of this effort, but it is particularly galling in the context of Race to the Top, where states are supposed to be making proposals about adoption of these standards on a very short timeline. What does it mean to adopt these standards ("identical" or "85%" ?)? If they are English Language Arts standards, they drastically constrain the scope of the discipline. If they aren't English Language Arts standards, are states expected to adopt separate English Language Arts standards? Are they allowed to?

Given that these standards are clearly meant to work in concert with data systems linking students to individual teachers and thus performance pay to individual teachers, does anybody care that the English standards as currently defined rule out attributing progress to individual teachers?

...the responsibility for teaching such skills must also extend to the other content areas...


Claus von Zastrow said...

One could argue that the standards represent a cri de coeur for collaboration among teachers--not a bad thing, no?

Tom Hoffman said...

It would make sense to re-define these as not "English Language Arts" standards, but "Disciplinary Literacy" standards. I don't anticipate that happening, though.