Moats: Core fail

Common Core standards are appropriate for the “most academically able” students, says Louisa Moats in a Psychology Today interview. At least half of students will not be able to meet the standards. A nationally known expert on teaching reading, Moats helped write the standards.

Students doomed to “fail” core-aligned tests need a “range of educational choices and pathways to high school graduation, employment, and citizenship,” says Moats. Notice she doesn’t mention college.

The standards call for the use of “more challenging and complex texts,” which will benefit older students, she says. But that may hurt younger students.

Novice readers (typically through grade 3) need a stronger emphasis on the foundational skills of reading, language, and writing than on the “higher level” academic activities that depend on those foundations, until they are fluent readers.

Teachers aren’t prepared to teach the new standards, says Moats.

Classroom teachers are confused, lacking in training and skills to implement the standards, overstressed, and the victims of misinformed directives from administrators who are not well grounded in reading research.

. . . The standards treat the foundational language, reading, and writing skills as if they should take minimal time to teach and as if they are relatively easy to teach and to learn. They are not. The standards call for raising the difficulty of text, but many students cannot read at or above grade level, and therefore may not receive enough practice at levels that will build their fluency gradually over time.

Teachers have received no sensible guidance on how to teach students with learning disabilities, she adds.

  What little time there is for professional development is being taken up by poorly designed workshops on teaching comprehension of difficult text or getting kids to compose arguments and essays. This will not be good for the kids who need a systematic, explicit form of instruction to reach basic levels of academic competence.

I’ve been around a long time, and this feels like 1987 all over again, with different words attached to the same problems. When will we ever learn?

This is a devastating critique.

Via DCGEducator.

About Joanne


  1. Roger Sweeny says:

    But the people who developed Common Core found the “foundational skills of reading, language, and writing” easy to learn. To say that lots of students won’t feels insulting and mean. You only succeed in the ed world if you aren’t perceived as insulting and mean. The fact that your policies don’t succeed is an unfortunate consequence.

  2. So..let’s make teaching a full time, year round job like everyone else’s. Summer and student days off can be used to prepare for the students’ academic year.

  3. It appears that the intrusive, personal data-gathering of CC has been “eliminated” (watch out for return), but it’s still an epic fail. I’m guessing that only the top 30% of students will be able to meet the standards, but it also fails to include a math/science path through AP calc BC and AP calc-based physics. Even for kids not heading to STEM fields, elite colleges often use calc as a sorting mechanism.

    Expecting all kids to meet any meaningful standard is a fantasy. The ed world’s disinterest in good voc ed options is again on display. They were kids who were “good at school” and they disdain non-academic options.

    • And of that top 30%, a substantial number will be in private or homeschool, leaving the rest to become alienated.

      • Significant numbers of those in public school have been concentrated in schools/districts the most able, prepared and motivated are concentrated, for decades; most urban areas have well-known suburbs (usually) where the equally well-known”good” schools are located. Most kids from these areas will have no difficulty passing CC standards; the issue is the availability of enough course offerings far beyond CC level (real AP calc, sciences, etc) to meet the needs of kids heading to elite colleges and STEM fields.

        • Yikes! That was supposed to have read:

          Significant numbers of those in public schools have been, for decades, concentrated in schools/districts where the most able, prepared and motivated are the – sometimes large – majority; those well-known suburbs (usually) where the equally well-known “good” schools are located.