Sunday, March 07, 2010

Why Race to the Middle?

Ze'ev Wurman and Sandra Stotsky:

National English language arts standards must be rooted in recognized literary, linguistic, and rhetorical scholarship and be compatible with the grade-by-grade progression of standards in the best sets of English language arts standards in this country. A document purporting to present a set of English language arts standards must do much more than claim it is based on research that supports its details on reading instruction. It also must indicate the linguistic, rhetorical, and literary scholarship that justifies its organization, its literature strands, and its composition strands. For example, the page on “Definitions of Key Writing Types,” close to the end of this Draft, has not one quotation or scholarly reference to support what this draft claims are the three “key writing types.” What body of scholarship in rhetoric suggests that Narrative, Informative/ Explanatory, and Argument are the three key writing types?

All English teachers care about the standards or benchmarks on which their state tests have been based. They are not apt to respect or teach to a document that shows no cognizance of the literary, rhetorical, and linguistic scholarship they studied as English majors, or offers as standards statements that read like caricatures of the English language.

Finally the CCSSI standards (math and ELA) get the rough treatment they deserve in a 30 page white paper. The new draft is out this week. I'm sure it will be the best one yet, but the foundation is rotten, so I'm not expecting much.

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