Monday, May 21, 2012

I Make Comments

Over at Diane Ravitch's:

I truly wish Dr. Coleman would follow his own standards and “Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text,” because much of what he claims is required or even implied by the standards simply is not.

For example: “in elementary there is more time for history, science and the arts.” This is outside the scope of the ELA/Literacy standards.

“The Core Standards ask for a 50/50 balance between reading, writing, listening and speaking about literature and texts in science, history and the arts.” Actually, this is accurate. They ask for it, in the supporting texts. No standard requires it.

“Standards celebrates the role literature plays in building student knowledge and creativity” Really? Which standard celebrates student creativity?

Which standard requires “rich knowledge of history, science, and the arts?”

“The Common Core Standards in this way restore elementary teachers to their rightful role as guides to the world.” I see standards that require elementary teachers to focus on textual complexity and analysis. Where is the “guide to the world” standard, exactly?

“The main reason the reading of informational text expands is that there is a requirement for the analysis of content rich non-fiction in history/social studies, science and technical subjects.” Is this requirement part of the ELA/Literacy standards or part of the science and history/social studies standards and/or curriculum? What exactly are the practical limits of the requirements of these standards? Can the science standards make English teachers responsible for students knowing how to use a two pan balance? If more informational reading is simply an organic outgrowth of higher levels of education, why are we even talking about it?

“The Standards do require content rich non-fiction to play a more central role in student reading, writing, listening and speaking than it has in the past.” Which standard requires this, compared to what standard?

When these standards were released, one reaction I had was “Whoever wrote this is not very interested in the discipline of English, or standards documents, or how standards are used in American schools today.” Dr. Coleman seems much more interested in how much time is spent doing what than what students should know and be able to do. Only the latter is the proper domain of “standards” as they are used in 21st century America.

Ultimately this controversy will fade away as more people realize that there is no particular reason to listen to curricular commandments from Dr. Coleman or anyone else about the “right” way to teach to the Common Core. The entire point of standards-based reform is that whatever works is the right way, and today, what “works” is whatever raises test scores.

If you want a longer-running hobby-horse, start asking why the Common Core ELA/Literacy standards were never internationally benchmarked, despite the requirement to do so for any standards used in RttT applications. The answer of course is that they are nothing like those used by any high performing country.

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