The revised Common Core standards are ready for review. The NGA clarifies in its release that “standards are not curriculum.” Robert Pondiscio comments that “it’s good to see a measure of clarity” about the distinction between the two.
These standards do look clearer than the previous version, although, as before, the math is more specific than the English. Chester E. Finn, Jr., at Flypaper comments:
We’re still reviewing the latest version but at first glance it appears that the math standards, while not perfect, have a lot going for them. The “English” standards are harder to appraise. They’re not actually English standards, but, rather, standards for reading, writing, speaking and listening. The drafters acknowledge that they would need to be accompanied by solid curriculum content, and they’ve provided a handful of examples—good ones, mostly—of such content. But they’ve also left most of the heavy lifting to states, districts, schools and educators. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But it also means that the “common core” standards, at least in this version, are more a vessel waiting to be filled with curriculum than an actual framework for what teachers should teach and students should learn.
Yet even with the relative vagueness of the English standards, they have more substance than some of the state ELA standards I have seen. Here’s what the standards say about the quality of reading material:
The literary and informational texts chosen or study should be rich in content and in a variety of disciplines. All students should have access to and grapple with works of exceptional craft and thought both for the insights those works offer and as models for students’ own thinking and writing. These texts should include classic works that have broad resonance and are alluded to and quoted often, such as influential political documents, foundational literary works, and seminal historical and scientific texts. Texts should also be selected from among the best contemporary fiction and nonfiction and from a diverse range of authors and perspectives.
I looked at the illustrative texts and the commentary. I have some minor quibbles, but all in all they look fine. My main concern is that English class would turn into “a little bit of everything.” There should be literature class, and then there should be extensive reading and writing in the other subjects.
The math standards look promising, though the illustrative examples seem a bit on the easy side. Also, I am not sure why they avoided organizing the material around areas of mathematics such as geometry, algebra, linear algebra, calculus. Only probability and statistics get their own categories. Otherwise the material is organized around general skills and concepts. Why?