I guess I never noticed these two documents published by Achieve in 2010:
- Comparing the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects and the Standards of Alberta, Canada and New South Wales, Australia
- Comparing the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects to California and Massachusetts Standards
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?