Wednesday, December 26, 2012

In the Common Core, Is there a Place for Domain Specific Vocabulary in the Discipline of English/Language Arts?

The Common Core standards consistently emphasize "general academic and domain-specific vocabulary," in equal measures. They are almost always used together.

One thing I've noticed in the standards, however, is both a peculiar lack of domain-specific vocabulary within the discipline of English and Language Arts, and inaccuracy when it is used.

For example, Ye Olde Massachusetts Standards:

Identify and analyze characteristics of genres (satire, parody, allegory, pastoral) that overlap or cut across the lines of genre classifications such as poetry, prose, drama, short story, essay, and editorial.

That sort of genre analysis -- fundamental to the discipline of English (and the humanities in general) -- is conspicuously absent from the Common Core.

This is a more typical formulation for the CC:

Analyze a case in which grasping point of view requires distinguishing what is directly stated in a text from what is really meant (e.g., satire, sarcasm, irony, or understatement).

Is it my imagination, or is this written in such a way to require as little domain-specific knowledge or vocabulary within English Language Arts as possible?

When domain-specific vocabulary is used in the standards, it is mangled. For example according to CC, "informational texts" = "literary nonfiction" which is defined as:

Includes the subgenres of exposition, argument, and functional text in the form of personal essays, speeches, opinion pieces, essays about art or literature, biographies, memoirs, journalism, and historical, scientific, technical, or economic accounts (including digital sources) written for a broad audience.

That's just a mess on stilts, none of those definitions fits their "domain-specific" definition or makes any sense.

What I'm realizing now is that all this is a bit more intentional than I thought.

Here's what Achieve is telling secondary school leaders:

Academic Vocabulary: Students constantly build the vocabulary they need to access grade level complex texts. By focusing strategically on comprehension of pivotal and commonly found words (such as “discourse,” “generation,” “theory” and “principled”) and less on esoteric literary terms (such as “onomatopoeia” or “homonym”), teachers constantly build students’ ability to access more complex texts across the content areas.

This argument by Achieve has no basis in the text of the standards, which gives general academic and domain-specific terms equal weight, but it is becoming the standard interpretation.


SHIFT 6: Academic Vocabulary from EngageNY on Vimeo.


What I have come to realize over the years is that I teach discreet [sic] genre-related skills for poetry, drama, “the novel and memoir.[sic] Why was I sending kids off to college and work without teaching them how to engage in complex, informational and non-fiction text? Now I have partners in that effort in other content classes down the hall. it makes sense.

Now, I'm actually sympathetic with their general point about "tier 2" words being relatively under-taught, and I can see how this could especially be an issue with disadvantaged students. And I can imagine liking a set of standards which de-emphasized some academic vocabulary because they were less narrowly academic overall.

But these standards are not only very narrowly academic in their goals, but with a particular emphasis on close reading and textual analysis. Are we really dead set on doing this without using "esoteric literary terms (such as “onomatopoeia” or 'homonym')?" Why, exactly? In the video, David Coleman talks about the subtlety of meaning lost in over-emphasizing synonyms. Is it ok to teach the word "synonym" but not "homonym?" Or should we just use "words that mean almost the same thing" and "words that sound the same but are different" instead to prepare kids for college?

I think Coleman genuinely wants students and teachers who love words and language, but I don't understand the hostility toward words used to describe and analyze other words.

To the extent there is an explanation to this, I think it can be attributed to the rivalry between ELA and Literacy experts and teachers. Literacy people heavily outnumbered ELA people on these standards, and they're using the process to disarm their institutional rivals by literally removing their words -- their tools -- from schools.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012

It's been a Helluva Year for Central PA in the National News


(CNN) -- Three females and a male shooter were killed Friday in central Pennsylvania, authorities said.

Three Pennsylvania State Police officers were hurt while responding, according to Blair County District Attorney Richard Consiglio. One of them was wounded when a bullet hit his armored vest, another was hurt in a vehicle accident involving the unidentified shooter, and the third was hit by flying glass as the shooter fired through the windshield of the officer's vehicle.

Blair County Coroner Patty Ross said that three females and one male, the shooter, were dead. It was not immediately clear whether all four fatalities were from gunshot wounds or where they were killed.

Trendspotting with John Thompson

John Thompson:

But, perhaps there is a simpler method of holding the "reformers" accountable. The World, the New Jersey Star Ledger and the Chicago Tribune have recently published confidential documents that provide glimpses of the motives of these accountability hawks. All three sets of documents reveal their deep suspicion of the public and of public schools, and provide evidence that the "reform" movement is morphing into an effort to privatize schools.

Achieve's Common Core ELA Benchmarking

I guess I never noticed these two documents published by Achieve in 2010:

Not surprisingly, both are too general and slanted to be of any real value. Achieve, Fordham, and the rest of the current US standards activists have a double standard for evaluating ELA standards compared to math. They believe that other, higher scoring, countries have better math standards than us, and that generally we should emulate them. In ELA, they just don't really like other countries' standards, high performing or not. They are quite confident that they've got some new ideas that are even better than those of the proven high performing states in the US.

So in the report you get a lot of comments like this:

The other state standards tend to apply such close reading to literary texts and not to informational material.

Of course, the reason other states and countries do not apply close reading techniques to informational material is that it is mostly a waste of time. The vast majority of "informational text" simply does not reflect enough care or craft to be worth the bother. Where informational text is very rich, it tends to yield more easily to literary techniques anyhow. There's no reason to think that a student who can perform a close reading of Poe and Melville can't handle the Gettysburg Address. There is something to be said for close reading in analyzing argument and persuasion, but I'd rather see that in a separate set of standards on rhetoric (for which there is ample precedent).

Anyway, if someone other than Achieve tried to add a major new task in math that high performing states and countries omit, their benchmarking would almost certainly frown upon it. That's the point of this enterprise, isn't it?

Here's some more stuff about Alberta vs. Common Core.

Here's a nice quote from the New South Wales standards which for some reason omits the phrase "college and career readiness:"

English involves the study and use of language in its various textual forms, encompassing written, spoken and visual texts of varying complexity, including the language systems of English through which meaning is conveyed, interpreted and reflected.

The study of English enables students to recognise and use a diversity of approaches and texts to meet the growing array of literacy demands, including higher-order social, aesthetic and cultural literacy. This study is designed to promote a sound knowledge of the structure and function of the English language and to develop effective English communication skills*. The English Stage 6 courses develop in students an understanding of literary expression and nurture an appreciation of aesthetic values. Through reading, writing, listening, speaking, viewing and representing experience, ideas and values, students are encouraged to adopt a critical approach to all texts and to distinguish the qualities of texts. Students also develop English language skills to support their study at Stage 6 and beyond.

In Stage 6, students come to understand the complexity of meaning, to compose and respond to texts according to their form, content, purpose and audience, and to appreciate the personal, social, historical, cultural and workplace contexts that produce and value them. Students reflect on their reading and learning and understand that these processes are shaped by the contexts in which they respond to and compose texts.

The study of English enables students to make sense of, and to enrich, their lives in personal, social and professional situations and to deal effectively with change. Students develop a strong sense of themselves as autonomous, reflective and creative learners. The English Stage 6 syllabus is designed to develop in students the faculty to perceive and understand their world from a variety of perspectives, and it enables them to appreciate the richness of Australia’s cultural diversity.

The syllabus is designed to develop enjoyment of English and an appreciation of its value and role in learning.

Not very Common Core-y at all, is it?

Also True In Education


We have two things going on here. One is the understood rule that Democrats must be civil and nice and never commit the sin of accurately describing the views of Republicans. Second is the entrenched pundit utterly unconcerned with actual policy or judicial outcomes because, you know, they won't actually impact him.

You might have to substitute "reformer" for "Republican" here.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What's Cooking at the College Board?

Kati Haycock:

I’m writing to let you know that, after 16 years at the Education Trust, Amy Wilkins will be leaving early next year to take a new position at the College Board.

That'll be working under new College Board president David Coleman, of course.

The Common Core, particularly "if implemented correctly" as we say, undercuts the argument for The College Board's two best known products, the SAT and AP (at least in English and Math). They're not going to be sitting on their hands over in that wealthy non-profit.

Grifters Gotta Grift

Kathleen Porter-Magee:

Earlier this year, the GE Foundation awarded an $18 million, four-year grant to Student Achievement Partners—the group co-founded by the chief CCSS architects David Coleman, Sue Pimentel, and Jason Zimba—to support (among other things) the development of Common Core–aligned curriculum and instructional resources. In addition to being developed under the careful guidance of the lead authors of the standards themselves (and all signs seem to suggest that these materials will be top-notch), SAP-developed resources will be open source and provided at no cost to teachers around the country.

This week, Student Achievement Partners announced a new partnership with the NEA and AFT, which will be funded with a three-year, $11 million grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, “to jointly design tools and digital applications to support teachers in their practice.”

I haven't seen any evidence at all that Student Achievement Partners has the capacity to create successful curriculum and instructional resources (and plenty to the contrary). The only thing that is clear is that they excel at turning connections in to cash.

Apparently Eli Broad isn't the Only One Funding a Fifth Column Within Our Public Institutions

Rajiv Chandrasekaran:

Petraeus allowed his biographer-turned-paramour, Paula Broadwell, to read sensitive documents and accompany him on trips. But the entree granted the Kagans, whose think-tank work has been embraced by Republican politicians, went even further. The four-star general made the Kagans de facto senior advisers, a status that afforded them numerous private meetings in his office, priority travel across the war zone and the ability to read highly secretive transcripts of intercepted Taliban communications, according to current and former senior U.S. military and civilian officials who served in the headquarters at the time.

The Kagans used those privileges to advocate substantive changes in the U.S. war plan, including a harder-edged approach than some U.S. officers advocated in combating the Haqqani network, a Taliban faction in eastern Afghanistan, the officials said.

The pro-bono relationship, which is now being scrutinized by military lawyers, yielded valuable benefits for the general and the couple. The Kagans’ proximity to Petraeus, the country’s most-famous living general, provided an incentive for defense contractors to contribute to Kim Kagan’s think tank. For Petraeus, embracing two respected national security analysts in GOP circles helped to shore up support for the war among Republican leaders on Capitol Hill.

Or maybe Eli and Bill got the idea from AEI.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Nobody Could Have Predicted

Burkins and Yaris:

One main idea we gathered from reading the PARCC text and test items (Pun intended!) is that PARCC seems to be confusing text complexity with text that is difficult because it is poorly written. Complexity is not the only reason a text may prove challenging, but it is the purpose of the PARCC assessments, as they clearly state that every item in the test is designed to assess text complexity. Making something complex involves more than making it “hard.”

This to me was always the risk of emphasizing "text complexity."

Also, text complexity in assessments is one of the few things in this whole process which can be "objectively" enforced. Not that each text has some Platonic true complexity, but you can write an algorithm to spit out a number which "proves" your case. So you can add in the commentary to the standards "Also, this has to be a genuinely valuable, well written, virtuous, whatever" text, but at the end of the day, that's not going to carry much weight in the test writing process. But they will get the complexity numbers to come out right.

TIMMS, Effort and Shovel-Ready Science

In my first look at the 2011 TIMMS and PIRLS results, I asserted that we've put much more effort into reading -- especially 4th grade reading -- than math and science, despite all the hand-wringing about STEM and STEAM. Among all the survey data and other analysis in the TIMMS and PIRLS reports, I did notice one table that backs me up.

For each test, principals were polled on the question of how much resource shortages affected instruction in the relevant subject area. In 4th grade reading, we have the fewest principals reporting their schools are "not affected," at 45%. This is the lowest percentage of all participating countries in reading; our scale score in the subject is a very competitive 6th.

I looked at the same rankings in math and science and compared us to Korea in each.

In math we have 42% and 43% not affected by resources shortages in 4th and 8th grade, ranking #6 and #8, respectively. Our scores rank #11 and #9.

Korea has 22% and 15% fewer schools reporting affects of resource shortages in math in those grades. They rank in the top three for both resources and overall scores.

In science we have 34% and 39% reporting their schools are not affected by resource shortages, ranking us #6 and #10 for resources and #7 and #10 for scores.

In 4th grade science, Korea is #1 in both resources and scores; in 8th grade they are #3 in each. They have 29% fewer schools with resource shortages in science in 4th grade, 18% fewer in 8th.

Now, the first cherry I picked there worked out pretty neatly, I'm sure the overall correlation is considerably less tidy. My point isn't that this is the decisive point or spending X million dollars would vault us to the top of the rankings.

But, you can certainly look to this while pulling your hair out and fighting back tears about what could possibly be done to improve math and science education in America, when everything we're trying seems like a triple-bank shot with our eyes closed. It might work to write new standards, then new tests, then new VAM models, use them in new evaluation systems, which we then tie to teacher training programs, which we use to rank schools of education, and then maybe create an entirely new alternative system of ed schools, etc., etc., etc.

In the meantime, it certainly couldn't hurt to shell out a little cash to make sure math and science teachers have all the resources they need. Right now 2/3rds of elementary principals believe that science instruction in their schools is affected negatively by resource shortages.

Sure, some of it will end up going into gold-plated telescopes and short-toothed clam rakes, but of all the things we could be doing, it is the easiest and most "shovel-ready," and it seems to have helped in early reading.

Monday, December 17, 2012

You Can Count Me as "Anti-David Coleman"

Cedar Riener:

None of these points are tangential, they get to the core of the philosophical disputes in these cases. The reason Michelle Rhee was so despised in DC was that she openly and bluntly dismissed the value of dialogue, diplomacy and consensus. (“I think if there is one thing I have learned over the last 15 months, it’s that cooperation, collaboration and consensus-building are way overrated.”) Part and parcel of this attitude is maintaining tha tyou have nothing ot learn from understanding The reason David Coleman is so despised is that his language indicates a disgust with his opponents. To me, this represents not just a disconnect between sides of an emotional issue, but a fundamental misunderstanding about the nature of your own job. David Coleman, if you treat teachers who use Huck Finn as an entrance to modern racial identity as if they are training shallow navel-gazers, they will stop listening to you. I am not anti-David Coleman, and neither is Rachel, we are probably natural allies if you look at our support of Core Knowledge and the role of background factual knowledge in critical thinking. but the cursing in this case says “I am not taking people who disagree with me seriously.”

Where Would A People's History of the United States Fit in the Common Core?

American Educator has a critique of Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States. I find the AFT's traditional conservative slant to be tiresome, but Wineburg makes some good points, and A People's History is certainly a polemic, but as usual I think Wineburg's perspective overstates the overall influence of Zinn in actual American classrooms.

Regardless, it does provide a good context for thinking about how the Common Core is supposed to work.

For starters, perhaps this essay should just be seen as an argument that A People's History is not a sufficiently high quality text to satisfy the exhortations of the authors of the Common Core standards. This would be especially true since the Common Core history standards emphasize primary or at least secondary sources, and A People's History, which, according to Wineburg, mostly cites other secondary sources, when it has citations at all.

On the other hand, A People's History is indisputably in the Core's wheelhouse of "informational texts" aka "Literary Nonfiction" aka "...historical accounts written for a broad audience," especially given that commentary around the standards emphasizes evaluating arguments and rhetoric. You can't learn to critique arguments if you are only given pre-selected texts with airtight logic and ample factual evidence. Or maybe that's what the CC authors have in mind.

So instead, perhaps you'll read A People's History in English instead of History class, with an English teacher guiding you through a set of tasks primarily focused on close reading and analysis of the text itself, with only part of one standard addressing whether "the evidence is relevant and sufficient." This might work out fine, in fact Wineburg's own analysis is more about how Zinn constructs his text as a whole than a point by point refutation.

Or perhaps not. Maybe students will sit through watered down history (and science) lessons taught by English teachers in the name of meeting the "informational text" requirement. It is difficult to say what the Common Core's vision of disciplinary and interdisciplinary literacy really is, or how it will play out in tests and classrooms.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Few Words About Mr. Round

I had the pleasure of working a bit with Stephen Round at Fortes Elementary 10 years ago, back when they were winning national praise (and grants) for their use of technology and particularly for their ongoing schoolwide project to build museum displays throughout the school telling the history of the neighborhood and the restored mill that housed the school. Steve's class's particular passion was ice harvesting, which is still documented online.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

PIRLS 2011: We've Succeeded at What We've Truly Focused On

From where I sit, we've only truly had an all hands on deck, we're going to spend whatever needs to be spent, this nation is at risk, I'd consider it an act of war if imposed upon me by an unfriendly foreign power, kind of response in one sliver of education reform over the past 15 years or so, and that is in elementary reading. I'm not going to marshal statistics to prove it; it should be obvious to anyone with a good view of the process.

To me this is symbolized in the elementary school down the street where the new literacy/data center sits in the ruins of the formerly state of the art science center (itself within the original library).

That is not to say I agree with a lot of our literacy strategy, but there is a vast difference between the amount of push in early reading instruction now and decades earlier.

And, importantly, we've traditionally had good professional capacity in this area.

So... the scores for the 2011 PIRLS 4th grade international reading test is out, and we killed it. Killed it.

These two graphs lay it out pretty well. First, the overall score distribution (red = 5th-25th and 75th-95th percentile, black = 95% confidence interval for the average). Click to expand:

When you break out the scores by economic background, we do even better:

There's a name for the effect when you outscore everyone else in each subcategory but get a lower overall score because of the relative distribution of each group (i.e., you have too many in the most disadvantaged group). I'm not going to look up the name right now, but that's what's going on here. We're #1 in the top two groups and 5th in the third, by my scan. Against Finland we're +15/+3/-4. Against Russia we're +15/+8/-12. Against Singapore we're +1/+14/-4. We just have a low number of "more affluent" schools and a lot of "more disadvantaged" ones.

I guess Florida is the only state that took the PIRLS to be scored individually, and their scores are gaudy. First, first, and second by income group.

Yes, I know Florida's 4th grade reading scores are suspect because of their retention policies, but the whole northeast does as well or better than Florida on 4th grade NAEP, so some states would do even better, and Rhode Island might even look pretty good.

Ultimately, no, I don't put that much stock in any one test, etc., and we know our scores tend to decline at higher grade levels, and we don't do as well in math and science.

But, this is still an impressive indication of what we can do if we set our minds to it and invest real money and effort -- without the whole privatization agenda. I don't see us beating the world in math for pretty much the same reason we won't win the World Cup anytime soon; we do pretty good in soccer, for a country that doesn't really like soccer that much. And I'm not convinced we're even really trying in science at this point (heck, it's only 1/4th of STEM).

But Jeez Louise, this is probably the best we've ever done on any international test in K-12, ever. You'd think people would be happy. Especially the people who profess to think international comparisons are extremely important.

I Didn't Know Staff Writers Got Tenure

Prachi Gupta:

Stewart, who was told that he could not change the jokes, called his agent, saying “get me the fuck out of this. These people are insane.” He admitted that he “had to be talked down from a moderately high cliff” from quitting. Fortunately for America, Stewart stuck it out — but it took him “about two and a half years for the ‘natural winnowing process’ to leave him with a fully supportive staff.”

Apparently The Daily Show didn't qualify for a SIG-funded turnaround.

Good Thing Rhode Island Hasn't Tried Following Massachusetts' Strategies

James Vaznis:

Massachusetts eighth-graders outperformed most countries on a highly regarded international math and science exam, according to results being released Tuesday, offering fresh evidence that the state’s educational system rivals academically powerful ­nations around the globe.

In the science part of the test, only Singapore outscored Massachusetts eighth-graders. In math, Massachusetts trailed only South Korea, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, and Japan; 63 countries took the test.

For that matter, Massachusetts isn't sticking with what got them there either. I'm sure we're both better off becoming more like Florida, Texas or Tennessee.

It Isn't Just About Skills


So the story has totally shifted; if you want to understand what’s happening to income distribution in the 21st century economy, you need to stop talking so much about skills, and start talking much more about profits and who owns the capital. Mea culpa: I myself didn’t grasp this until recently. But it’s really crucial.

You also need some leverage to demand higher wages. Maybe a little collective action.

Monday, December 10, 2012

I Figured the Point was to Keep Each Episode Manageably Short

Dana Stevens:

When I heard Jackson was taking on The Hobbit as a three-parter, my first thought wasn’t to snicker at his hubris but to look forward to the chance to spend more time in Middle Earth.

More time in Middle Earth is exactly what The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey provides—so much more that the movie starts to feel like some Buddhist exercise in deliberately inflicted tedium. Before we ever set foot in the hobbits' shire or lay eyes on any of the main characters, there’s a 20-minute long CGI prologue that provides a Bayeux Tapestry-length account of the mythic fall of Erebor, the dwarves’ once-glorious homeland. Bilbo doesn’t actually pack his bag and leave the damn shire until about an hour in to the movie, which clocks in at just 10 minutes short of three hours.

Apparently not.

Buying the Conventional Wisdom

Dan Froomkin:

Most reporters, however -- including many widely admired for their intelligence and aggressive reporting -- simply refused to blame one side more than the other. Mann said he was struck in conversations with journalists by how influenced they were by the heavily funded movement to promote a bipartisan consensus around deficit reduction and austerity. Such a bipartisan consensus doesn't actually exist, Mann pointed out. But if you believe it does, than you can blame both parties for failing to reach it.

"The Peterson world, I think, has given journalists the material to keep doing what they're doing," Mann said of the vast network of think tanks and other influential Washington groups underwritten at least in part by Wall Street billionaire Peter Peterson.

Peterson's vast spending has given rise to an environment of contempt among the Washington elites for anyone who doesn't believe the government is dangerously overextended. And by that reckoning, the Democrats are therefore more out of touch with reality than Republicans, who at least pay the concept ample lip service.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

First Fluke, Now Fleck

Rebecca Berdar:

Pennsylvania’s 81st District is a diverse place — a three county territory that encompasses Appalachian, Amish and liberal arts cultures in the midst of the urban and academic centers of Altoona and State College. It’s a diversity mirrored by its elected representative Mike Fleck, a conservative Christian who is disclosing that he is also gay.

It is unfortunate that the whole article in The Huntingdon Daily News is behind their paywall because it is really very well done. I had to chuckle over Berdar's description of the "diversity" in my home town -- Appalachia, Amish and liberal arts. Pretty accurate except there really aren't that many Amish around.

The Short Explanation: They Didn't Give it Much Thought

Leonie Haimson:

Coleman’s comments lead me to suspect that he and other supporters of the Common Core have not thought their prescription out carefully. Traditionally, in high school English classes, two novels, at least one play and several poems are regularly assigned; that works out to 700 pages of text or more. In order to achieve the 70% ratio without sacrificing huge chunks of literature that would mean that more than 1500 pages of non-fiction would have to be parceled out across all subjects.

They must have talked about the issue when writing the "range of reading" standards, though, and decided not to include the lit/informational ratio in there. Why?

What They Mean By "Multiple Measures," Take 27

Bruce Baker:

What we have here is NYSED threatening that they may enforce a corrective action plan on the district if the district uses any other measures of teacher or principal effectiveness that are not sufficiently correlated WITH THE STATE’S OWN BIASED MEASURES OF PRINCIPAL AND TEACHER EFFECTIVENESS!

This is the icing on the cake! This is sick- warped- wrong! Consultants to the state find that the measures are biased, and then declare they are “fair and accurate.” The Chancellor spews propaganda that reliance on these measures must proceed with all deliberate speed! (or ELSE!!!!!!!). Then the Chancellor’s enforcers warn individual district officials that they will be subjected to mind control – excuse me – departmental oversight – if they dare to present their own observational or other ratings of teachers or principals that don’t correlate sufficiently with the state imposed, biased measures.

Tell us how you really feel, Bruce.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Standards for Curricula

The Common Core standards are, of course, standards for what students should know and be able to do. The marketing of the Common Core ELA standards has been almost entirely focused on using the Common Core as standards for curricula, particularly the content of published curricula.

Coleman, Pimentel, etc., do not see teachers as the lever to implement the reforms they are interested in. They don't think like teachers at all. What they are clearly interested in is changing textbooks, instructional materials and tests. This is, I might add, a much more direct approach to changing America's classrooms.

For example, if you create an elementary reading program, or a high school ELA textbook, or a reading assessment, you pretty much understand what you're supposed to be doing when you manipulate the ratio of literature to informational texts. It's like changing the recipe a bit. Add 35% more "creative non-fiction?" I'll grab some more content from the cabinet, no problem.

But for teachers and schools, particularly high schools, a lot of this rhetoric just doesn't make sense. It does not apply, at least without a heck of a lot more explanation than has been offered thus far. What, exactly constitutes a unit of reading? A "passage?" How many passages in a book? Pages? How many Gettysburg Addresses equal one novel? Are all texts in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects also informational texts for this purpose despite the fact that they are defined separately in the standards? Do you have to analyze the text for it to count or just read it? How does Euclid count? If it counts, why not your math text? If these are annoying questions for which there are no answers, whose idea was it to start talking about percentages in the first place?

Do you really expect the whole school to change its practices to suit a comment in the introduction to one set of standards used by the school? To whom should anyone be held accountable for this?

Anyhow, that's one source of this confusion: they spent their big rollout on messages aimed at publishers, not schools. Now it is biting them in the ass.

David Coleman is Washing His Hands of this Mess

Lyndsey Layton:

The standards explicitly say that Shakespeare and classic American literature should be taught, said Coleman, who became president of the College Board in November. “It does really concern me that these facts are not as clear as they should be,” he said.

Monday, December 03, 2012

The Disciplinary Literacies Necessary to Read Literacy Standards


If Coleman is complaining that no one understands his 66 page document with a key fact in a foot note on page 5, maybe HE needs some remedial non-fiction writing instruction so that the core of his core statement is actually understood – rather than misunderstood.