Thursday, April 29, 2010

Achieve Illustrates How the Common Core is "More, Less Clear"

Achieve has put out a document aligning their draft Common Core standards to their American Diploma Project (ADP) standards.

Their main point is that the Common Core covers everything in ADP and a little more. That's mostly true, although they take some liberties, but more importantly, this document doesn't do a good job of convincing me that the Common Core is better than ADP, particularly in terms of Common Core's goals of being "fewer, clearer and higher."

Let's just look at an example from Achieve's document:

ADP H3. Interpret significant works from various forms of literature: poetry, novel, biography, short story, essay and dramatic literature; use understanding of genre characteristics to make deeper and subtler interpretations of the meaning of the text.

(maps to Common Core)

  • CCS.6.RL.9 Analyze stories in the same genre (e.g., mysteries, adventure stories), comparing and contrasting their approaches to similar themes and topics.
  • CCS.11‐12.RL.5 Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text (e.g., electing at what point to begin or end a story) shape the meaning of the text.
  • CCS.11‐12.RL.9 Analyze how an author draws on and transforms fictional source material in a specific work (e.g., how Shakespeare draws on a story from Ovid or how a later author draws on a play by Shakespeare).
  • CCS.5.RL.5 Explain major differences between drama and prose stories, and refer to the structural elements of drama (e.g., casts of characters, setting descriptions, dialogue, stage directions, acts, scenes) when writing or speaking about specific works of dramatic literature.
  • CCS.4.RL.5 Explain major differences between poems and prose, and refer to the structural elements of poems (e.g., stanza, verse, rhythm, meter) when writing or speaking about specific poems.
  • CCS.3.RL.5 Demonstrate understanding of common features of legends, myths, and folk‐ and fairytales (e.g., heroes and villains; quests or challenges) when writing or speaking about classic stories from around the world.
  • CCS.9‐10.RL.5 Analyze how an author structures a text, orders events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulates time (e.g., pacing) to create mystery, tension, or surprise.

Their commentary on this:

Partially Meets ADP:

This ADP Benchmark has two parts. The first is matched by the CCSS explicit requirement of a range of reading that covers the forms described in this benchmark. The second part of ADP H3 addresses the ways in which an understanding of genre characteristics deepens interpretations of a text. While the CCSS refers to some genres at the elementary levels (adventure stories and folk tales), the finer distinctions that characterize more complex texts such as the eulogy or satire are not addressed by the CCSS.

My commentary:

  • In the CCSS standards above, I've put the grade level in bold. Take a look. That's right, they're really aligning a graduation standard to three elementary school standards.
  • What happened to the College- and Career- Readiness Standards? Aren't the CCRS the apples to apple comparison between ADP and Common Core anyhow?
  • From eyeballing the document, even when they don't align to elementary and middle school standards, it still usually takes three or four Common Core standards to cover one ADP standard.
  • Also fairly typical is the difference in style and breadth of the standards. This ADP standard basically lays out the "core" academic work one does with literature in the late secondary and early college English classroom: interpretation, and particularly interpretation displaying some understanding of genre. That's what you do with literature in English class. All the little "analyze this" standard tasks in the Common Core, they're just exercises to get you ready to interpret significant works. Leave that out of the standards, and it is all just academic foreplay. And it doesn't prepare you for college.

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