Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pioneer Institute's Critique of Common Core ELA Final Version

Pioneer Institute:

D. What are the implications of Common Core’s ELA standards for curriculum and textbook development, teacher preparation, and professional development?

Common Core’s standards make a coherent K-12 ELA curriculum unattainable. Unlike standards that point to the general cultural or literary knowledge (as well as the generic thinking and language skills) needed at each grade level, Common Core’s “anchor” and grade-level standards not only provide no intellectual base or structure for a curriculum, they actually prevent one from emerging. The academic content of English as a K-12 subject area consists of the concepts that guide literary study (including nonfiction) through the grades (e.g., genres, subgenres, rhetorical and literary techniques and elements, literary periods, literary traditions). But the texts that teach these concepts cannot take up even half of the reading curriculum at each grade level if it is to address all of Common Core’s reading standards with the weight it requires. What informational topics can contribute to coherent learning progressions from grade to grade in the over 50 percent of the reading at each grade level that is to be informational? What concepts can a progression of informational texts be based on for a coherent English curriculum in grades 6-12? Or is the ELA informational reading curriculum to cannibalize the reading content of the science, history/social studies, mathematics, and arts curricula in grades 6-12, content that English teachers are not expected and prepared to teach?

PI hits the CC standards particularly hard on the "Organization and Disciplinary Coverage of the Standards" and overall "Quality of the Standards." Since the states seem mostly content with analysis for "alignment" and "rigor," the overall low quality of the standards isn't going to come out until teachers start trying to use them. The PI's critique is coming from a rather different perspective than mine, but I'm happy to see it, and it reflects consistency and integrity on their part.

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