Thursday, October 23, 2014

I'll Be Happy to Tell You What I Don't Like About CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.6

Me, in comments:
"Take the standard that 11th and 12th grade students should be able to 'evaluate authors' differing points of view on the same historical event or issue by assessing the authors' claims, reasoning, and evidence.'"

OK, let's take a look at CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.6, as Leo quotes.  The standard asks students to evaluate the points of view of several authors.  How do you "evaluate" a point of view?  Is it different than describing a point of view?  Certain points of view are to be differently valued?

The standard goes on to specify that students should make this evaluation of the authors' points of view by "assessing the authors' claims, reasoning, and evidence."  How is one to make this assessment?  That is, how does an assessment of claims, reasoning and evidence lead to an evaluation of points of view?  If you have sufficient evidence that validates your "point of view?"  Is that different than just evaluating the evidence for the argument?

This standard is just a word salad, and that's why it invites conspiratorial readings.  "Which points of view should kids positively evaluate... SOCIALIST ones?"

To put this in perspective, let's look at anchor standard six (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.6):

"Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text."

The 11th and 12th grade version of this standard that Leo quotes  is meant to align to this end of 12th grade, "college and career readiness" anchor standard.  One would imagine they should be quite similar, since the "rigor" should be identical, but aren't they sort of the inverse of each other?  Assess the point of view by analyzing the text versus assess how the point of view shapes the text?  How are we supposed to interpret this difference?

Research on disciplinary literacy by Timothy and Cynthia Shanahan suggests that the Common Core is missing the point:

" has been shown that in history reading, author is a central construct of interpretation (Wineburg, 1991, 1998). Historians are always asking themselves who this author is and what bias this author brings to the text (somewhat analogous to the lawyer’s common probe, “What did he know and when did he know it?”). Consideration of author is deeply implicated in the process of reading history, and disciplinary literacy experts have hypothesized that “sourcing”: (thinking about the implications of author during interpretation) is an essential history reading process (Wineburg, 1991, 1998)..."

Let's look at how Deborah Meier and her colleagues addressed this in their five habits of mind:

"The question of viewpoint in all its multiplicity, or 'Who’s speaking?'"

Putting all that together, isn't it clear that standard CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.6 should simply be:

"Based on historical evidence about the author, assess how the author's point of view or purpose shapes the reliability, content, and style of a text."

Isn't that better in every way, including internal consistency within the standards?  How did we end up with the mess we got?  

I could have emphasized more strongly that the standard in question is a history and social studies reading standard.

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