Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Getting Back to the Core of Common Core ELA

This is the generic form of the essay question in the new SAT:

Write an essay in which you explain how THE AUTHOR builds an argument to persuade his audience. In your essay, analyze how THE AUTHOR uses one or more of the features listed in the box above (or features of your own choice) to strengthen the logic and persuasiveness of his argument. Be sure that your analysis focuses on the most relevant features of the passage. Your essay should not explain whether you agree with THE AUTHOR'S claims, but rather explain how THE AUTHOR builds an argument to persuade his audience.

The "features in the box" might change, and of course the text will, but that's the prompt, full stop. One of the distinctive features of the Common Core is that essentially all the reading standards can be applied that way and turned into generic writing prompts that could be applied directly to arbitrary texts. This is a very unusual feature for a set of standards. It didn't happen accidentally.

On the other hand, Common Core implementation hasn't followed this path of least resistance, but its reappearance in the SAT indicates that it is a pattern David Coleman likes (or maybe we should credit The College Board, since that organization had a big footprint in the Common Core design process), and probably expected the Common Core to follow.

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