Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Let's Have a Little Common Core Rant for Old Times Sake

Me, at Slate:

As is typical for Common Core advocates, Karen Babbitt misrepresents Massachusetts previous standards, which did not simply "primarily (ask) students to identify story elements." Among many fiction standards there was one grade 5-6 standard which stated "Identify and analyze the elements of setting, characterization, and plot (including conflict)," but even in that case, the example given immediately after the standard was “What qualities of the central characters enable them to survive?”

For that matter, the example question she cites: "How does the main character change over time?" is not particularly well supported by the Common Core standards. The relevant 8th grade standard would seem to be "Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot; provide an objective summary of the text," but she is suggesting the opposite process. Of course, you can just shrug and say, "Well, close enough, whatever," but that's a sure sign that these standards are not actually very good at all, when the most seemingly straightforward examples don't quite fit.

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