Friday, September 28, 2012

Common Core vs. French Baccalauréat

Mike asks in comments:

Do any states (or countries) offer standards on the ELA/Reading side that are clearer?

Also, and unrelated: I suppose I should read the Goldstein piece, but how would you, Tom Hoffman, answer the question, "Why David Coleman?"

As to the second question, I have no clue, although I think Coleman may deserve more credit for marketing the standards than writing them.

In the US, I'd recommend looking at Indiana and Massachusetts. I've not seen a Common Core advocate with the stomach for trying to argue that CC ELA is better than or even equal to those.

Grant Wiggins blog yesterday led me to a nice, clear example of literature objectives, in this case from the British Option for the French Baccalauréat:



The syllabus aims:

i) to encourage and develop the enjoyment and appreciation of literature in English, based on an informed personal response, and

ii) to develop the ability to analyse and discuss that response and the texts which produced it, in a cogent, organised manner


The examination assesses the candidates’ response to literature by allowing them to display:

  • knowledge of the works studied and the historical and personal contexts in which they were written;
  • understanding: extending from simple factual comprehension to a recognition and conception of the nature and significance of literary texts and the issues and ideas which they raise;
  • analysis: the ability to develop and explain their response, and to identify and describe literary effects;
  • judgement: the capacity to make critical assessments and judgements of value based on close reading; the capacity to answer questions on specific aspects and features of a text by selecting relevant material for discussion;
  • cultural awareness: the ability to appreciate the character and significance of texts produced in a language and culture which may not be their own;
  • expression: the ability to express, in fluent and effective English, ideas, opinions and responses in organised and cogent essays on literary subjects – probably (although not compulsorily) following the characteristics of a formal written register; the ability to engage in an informed literary discussion.

If you've spent a lot of time reading about the Common Core standards, or, like Grant Wiggins and many others, prefer to focus on the introductory matter and appendices and pretend they are the standards, you may now be thinking, "Gee, those are a lot like the Common Core!"

Not really. Compare:


The Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects (“the Standards”) are the culmination of an extended, broad-based effort to fulfill the charge issued by the states to create the next generation of K–12 standards in order to help ensure that all students are college and career ready in literacy no later than the end of high school. ...

College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading

Key Ideas and Details

1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

2. Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

3. Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

Craft and Structure

4. Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

5. Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.

6. Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

7. Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

8. (not applicable to literature)

9. Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity

10. Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

I'll let you use your own judgement in comparing those. Most other countries standards/outcomes are more similar to Baccalauréat than to the Common Core. If CCSSI had published international benchmarks, as required by Race to the Top, we'd be having a much more interesting and informed discussion of language arts standards than we have up to this point.

I think you can see why they are so fearful of it.

1 comment:

Leroy's Mom said...

1. My read looking at it is that California has "harder" standards, but they, as you have pointed out, read the most like CCSS. The advantage of CCSS over existing state standards are that CCSS has fewer standards, which takes care of a common teacher complaint that there were too many standards to possibly teach in our state. That's not a glowing recommendation.
2. The thing that our state standards have and that are in the French Baccalauréat is a really critical piece for actually understanding ideas and literature...context. That was the first word that stood out to me, and was completely absent from CCSS, which is ALL about the text, in some weird laboratory scrubbed clean of any context and a whole lot of meaning.
I'm no English major, but that's my 2 cents as a teacher.