Friday, November 16, 2012

A Realistic View of the Impact of Literacy Standards in History/Social Studies

Marc Brasov:

As policymakers move forward with the implementation of the Common Core, it is important to ensure that schools have the freedom to balance instruction and assessment with a high-quality curriculum, in history classes especially. But I fear that the Common Core's requirement for literacy skills in both history and English classrooms could have a very different effect.

The standards, as of now, suggest that more non-fiction texts be examined in English classes, while requiring history classes to increase their focus on reading and writing skills. Although such collaboration between subjects at first may seem like progress, recent history with NCLB and high-stakes testing suggests another possible outcome: more focus on literacy, less focus on history.

While specifying some examples of great primary texts that students should read and learn to analyze, the Common Core standards do not actually require that any history content be taught. Students might read history texts but fail to receive history instruction. It may very well be that English classes be mandated to act as history classes.

In other words, at some future point, will history and civic education classes be replaced with longer English classes in low-performing schools in order to improve test scores?

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