Monday, April 30, 2012

This Entire Discussion is Off Topic

Greg Toppo:

When did fractions and non-fiction become so controversial?

The answer to this question, which frames an update on Common Core adoption and attendant controversy, is either "always" or "not yet." There is a certain amount of posturing going on by politicians, but the bulk of teachers and other interested parties are only now emerging from the initial "Wait, what?" phase of learning about the standards. The controversy has not yet begun.

And from reading pieces like this -- from national education journalists -- you wouldn't even know what points you're supposed to be arguing.


David Coleman, one of the standards' authors, admits that they'll be "a major shift," requiring more history, arts and science in English and reading classes, for instance, and less fiction. But he says it's needed to correct a decade of watered-down lessons. The biggest problem with No Child's requirement that schools raise test scores each year was that it was "content-free," he said. The law "was merely saying, 'Test whatever you got.' "

Do the standards require more history, arts and science in English and reading classes? Please cite examples from the text. Also, please explain why these changes don't simply mean "Test whatever (history, arts and science) texts you got."


David Riesenfeld, a history teacher who has been using the standards since 2010, said they've "pretty significantly pushed me to think about how much I cover" each school year. Because they require more depth in just a few areas, he said, they've forced him to focus more on teaching students to read and write about a handful of "significant topics" in world history.

I see, so these English and Language Arts standards are about depth rather than breadth in history class then? Interesting.


Riesenfeld, who teaches 10th-grade world history at Robert F. Wagner Jr. Secondary School for Art and Technology in Long Island City, N.Y., said he often relies on shorter passages and pushes students to read more closely and analytically — occasionally a class will spend an entire period breaking down a single paragraph. "In effect, they're learning how to use materials rather than just answer question a, b, c and d," he said.

So the Common Core is about reading shorter texts to prepare for college?


As a result, Riesenfeld said, his history students often look and sound as if they're in an English class.

OK, so more history in English and more English in history? Why again?


Leroy's Mom said...

I'm remember the shock of my first upper-level college social science classes where I was routinely assigned 100 pages of reading a week per class (with a load of 5-6 classes). If the complaint of college professors today is these kids can't read at a college level, spending a week on a paragraph, or short articles is not going to get them there.

Tom Hoffman said...

Actually the standards document as a whole (and supporting texts) are pretty clear that they want students to independently read long texts. Since it isn't actually testable, it is hard to give it an enumerated standard, since the CC is designed for everything to be testable.