Tuesday, September 24, 2013

My View on How To Improve the Common Core ELA

Assuming for some reason you wanted to fix them rather than start over.

  • Start with a document that clearly defines the scope of the standards, how they are intendend to interact with the standards in other disciplines, explains the logical relationship between the enumerated standards and various forms of commentary, and clearly defines all the important terms used throughout the standards, both regarding the standards as standards (what exactly differentiates standards and curricula?) and literary terminology.
  • Return the overall goals of the educational process to the balance traditionally used in American schools and high performing schools around the world -- that is, beyond just "college (and career)."
  • Return to the intent of the first CCRS draft, and make clear that these are "literacy" and "disciplinary literacy" standards for academic subjects. Chuck out ELA content entirely -- but not disciplinary literacy skills for the ELA classroom. Begin drafting a completely different set of language arts and humanities standards. Literary reading and the art historical approach to teaching literature is probably overemphasized in later grades, but not so much compared to "informational text," but compared to other art forms, which are at least as important today, if not more so. I'd note that normally I wouldn't suggest a wholesale reorganization of the disciplines, but having separate "reading" and "ELA" classes or just double "Reading/ELA" blocks has been common for a long time, and there already seems to be a clear divide in the discipline, different organizations, etc. (with ELA people being largely excluded from the Common Core process).
  • Give up on the idea that a short list of tasks can or should be traced linearly back from college to kindergarten, and give up on the idea that collapsing the differences between primary and secondary education is helpful.
  • Drop year-by-year standards -- in fact, make it clear that if you're dictating a year-by-year progression, that is inherently a curriculum.
  • Just generally revise the things based on teacher feedback.

I'm not saying I'd want to live in that house, but at least it'd have some structural integrity.

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