Thursday, May 02, 2013

Common Core Support is Soft in the Middle, Too

Me, in comments at Grant Wiggins':

Why are the ELA/Literacy standards so different from those of any high performing country, in almost every aspect, from fundamental goals (just college and career readiness?), to scope (far more narrow and academic), to organization (four sets of reading standards? different standards at almost every grade level), abandonment of basic disciplinary tools (genre analysis?), range of writing (not even a full concept of persuasive writing), and intellectual ambition (no real “criticism” in the literary sense, or even a full sense of “interpretation”)?

Has anybody ever explained even the changes between the American Diploma Project and the CCRS? The ADP’s “Logic” section was much stronger than the CC coverage, for example.

Wiggins:

Frankly, the issue is not the content standards; it’s the performance standards, as I have long written. And BTW we disagree: I think genre studies are not a vital goal for the typical student. And I think the C Core emphasis on argument vs persuasion is spot on. So, I guess we disagree.

Me:

Sorry to go into the weeds here, but I’m genuinely puzzled by these positions in reference to genre and persuasion. If these were designed to be basic skills literacy standards, sure, but they are supposed to be college-prep standards focusing on textual analysis.

Are you really supposed to do this “Analyze multiple interpretations of a story, drama, or poem (e.g., recorded or live production of a play or recorded novel or poetry), evaluating how each version interprets the source text. (Include at least one play by Shakespeare and one play by an American dramatist.),” without using the concept of genre? Why? If you do need it, why was it omitted from the standards? Is this a college level concept now?

And while I can see that persuasive writing might not be so important for your college classes, understanding modes of persuasion beyond logical argument could not be more important for people living in a media saturated world, where the vast majority of messages are not based on logic and evidence.

For that matter, you don’t even have to leave the “informational” texts in the standards to hit that issue (“We hold these truths to be self evident…,” etc.).

And that seems to be the end.

I don't want to read too much in to one comment thread, but these exchanges about Common Core always go this way. Very few Common Core advocates are willing to back up the details of the CC ELA standards. The vast majority quickly punt to something like "No set of standards is going to be perfect – it’s an ugly committee document." as Wiggins does elsewhere in the comments. That works up to a point, but let's be clear, that's not exactly a strong fighting stance for what's supposed to be your base.

2 comments:

funnymonkey said...

The reason that they punt on a detailed analysis and defense (within an actual dialogue) is that they are on weak ground.

Once they get past the talking points there isn't much to say.

Also, the Common Core standards are only part of the issue. The real issue is how they were bundled with assessments and teacher evaluation and labeling schools as part of RTTT and NCLB waivers.

And, of course, meeting the Common Core requires purchasing new curriculum, and the tests that align to that curriculum.

*Only* talking about the standards is disingenuous, as they are being implemented within a broader context.

funnymonkey said...

The reason that they punt on a detailed analysis and defense (within an actual dialogue) is that they are on weak ground.

Once they get past the talking points there isn't much to say.

Also, the Common Core standards are only part of the issue. The real issue is how they were bundled with assessments and teacher evaluation and labeling schools as part of RTTT and NCLB waivers.

And, of course, meeting the Common Core requires purchasing new curriculum, and the tests that align to that curriculum.

*Only* talking about the standards is disingenuous, as they are being implemented within a broader context.