At a meeting in Las Vegas, Scott Montgomery of the Council of Chief State School Officers and David Wakelyn of the National Governors Association, the two groups organizing the initiative, “said that when a state adopts the common-core standards, it must adopt the whole thing, not just parts of it,” Gewertz writes.
The first draft of core standards is being rewritten, in response to feedback. Reviewers said the English standards were hard to understand.
A source at the American Federation of Teachers said the union would like to see more clarity of language and grade-by-grade specificity, “so a teacher could pick it up and teach to it.” The group also spotted grade-sequencing problems in some places, the source said, such as requiring a math skill in one grade level without prerequisite skills in the previous grade.
Core standards need improvement, writes the Boston Herald.
As one example of what was wrong in English (among many possibilities), Massachusetts reviewers singled out a “core” standard for ninth and 10th grades: Students should be able to “articulate theses and themes and summarize how they develop over the course of a text and how they are expressed by the details.” The objection: “No experienced teacher would ever ask a student to do that. And an inexperienced teacher would be led to think that every work has both a theme and a thesis.”
In mathematics, among other problems, the reviewers cautioned against using words that “teachers, parents (and) members of the public may not be familiar with,” such as “transitivity” and “bivariate.”
Massachusetts already has good standards that have been tested in the classroom and won’t be eager to accept second-rate substitutes. I wonder why the core folks can’t just copy Massachusetts, modifying where necessary, rather than starting from scratch.
In an Education Week week column, a former high school and college teacher laments the “failure of imagination” in the core standards for writing, which call for students to “establish a topic, sustain focus, represent data accurately, revise their own writing ‘when necessary,’ and use technology as a tool.”
Of the 18 proposed core writing standards, eight, or nearly half, refer explicitly to writing arguments or explanations: the second and fourth, and standards 13 through 18.
Narrative writing is considered “a component of making an argument and writing to inform or explain.”
Good writers do more — and don’t always follow the rules, Edgar H. Schuster writes.
But the standards’ goal is to produce competent writers capable of writing college papers; it’s not to turn out good writers.
My high school taught nothing but expository writing — the 3-3-3 paragraph — in English for all four years. We hated it, but we were “college ready.”