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Reading between Scholastic’s lines is easy. All you have to do is a “close read”. So lets do that together, shall we? You can find the article by clicking the link.

 

Of course, following CC procedure, we will take excerpts and close read them to get to the hidden agendas.

 

My comments to the author are Italicized. 

 

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“The Common Core State Standards Initiative is one of the biggest educational reforms in decades, and its goals are lofty. Is lofty synonymous with good?

Lofty according to whom? Can lofty be construed as unreachable, especially when age and cognitive development are factored in?

 

The sweeping new set of educational benchmarks for kindergarten through high school not only aim to prepare students for college — they’re designed to turn them into big thinkers who can compete in the global job market.

Was education not designed to do that prior to CCSS? What global market is this competition for? Are they competing for jobs and college acceptance in Singapore? Why hasn’t Finland (whose students rate higher than ours when you don’t count poverty as a variable) bought into this concept?

 

Another driving force behind the state-led initiative: a belief that having a common set of standards — and a more streamlined testing process — will help raise the quality of public education for all American kids.”

Streamlined? Where is the evidence that more testing is streamlining a process of evaluation? What ever happened to “authentic assessment”? Why, exactly, is streamlining a good thing?

 

“We wanted to take a deep breath and find out exactly how teachers feel about these standards and what they mean for your kids, so we talked to instructors.

When did instructors become a synonym for teachers? Aren’t instructors college “lecturers? Do teachers merely instruct or do they guide students to become better learners?

 

We went into classrooms. We pored over the standards themselves. The result? We’re happy to report that the overall news is surprisingly good. Are teachers stressed? Yes. Is implementation messy? Double yes. Yet despite these challenges, 73 percent of teachers report that they’re excited about the new standards, according to Primary Sources, a survey of 20,000 public school teachers conducted by Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.”

So you used a survey created by the biggest supporter of the CCSS to objectively evaluate them? How is that going to give you an accurate assessment, or is it simply a more streamlined methodology?

 

“The educators that P&C spoke with say that the Common Core (CC for short) has made their classrooms more interesting and dynamic. Moreover, the early adopters (some states started using the standards in 2010) are seeing positive changes: Students are more engaged in the material and are learning to think more deeply about what they’re learning.”

Where were these educators? Did you purposely not go into rooms and talk to teachers who have been creating engaging material for years, or even decades? Don’t teachers create dynamic classroom by the force of their personalities and the way they relate to kids?

 

 

Before CC Fiction was the centerpiece of teaching literacy. Does this mean literacy was not taught in social studies? Traditional lessons consisted of kids reading from a storybook, novel, or basal reader, and then answering a few questions on a worksheet. “Everything was a who, what, or where question,” says Ali Berman, a fifth-grade teacher in Atlanta. “Who was the main character? What were they doing? Pretty much just recapping the story.”

Why does this not state that traditional teacher preparation has always taught that “who, what, when, and where questioning,” is never as important as “why or how questioning? Who, what, when, and where questions are useful in establishing plot only.

 

And nonfiction was but a blip on the reading radar screen (about 3.6 minutes per school day for the average first-grader, according to a study by researchers from the University of Michigan). 



When was this? Was it before or after NCLB forced schools to cut social studies and science time that featured non-fiction in order to have more time to test prep more and more?

 

After CC The biggest change is the emphasis on nonfiction of all kinds — informational texts, narratives, articles, and more. In fact, the new standards require that 50 percent of reading material in elementary school be nonfiction. But whatever kids are reading, they must also analyze text in a more complex way. “Today it’s all about the hows, whys, and what-ifs,” says Berman. Students don’t simply read a chapter or article once. A practice called “close reading” teaches kids to return to the text again and again. This might sound tedious, but it trains them to learn to interpret the author’s tone and word choice, as well as to see how one book connects to another.

Why doesn’t this article state that close reading and the use of why and how have always been instrumental in good teaching and are not “CCSS new”?

 

Examine all the questions in this close reading! I have used this technique for decades before CCSS was a concept yet to be born.

To what extent does age and cognitive development factor in to this? You do not say that at all.

Where does this entire section tell the reader that this change in reading was intended for ELA only and that social studies, as well as science have been stolen to take time for streamlining the school day to be more efficient at test prep? Perhaps if less time was taken from those two essential subjects?

 

“Teachers aren’t the only ones asking the questions, either. Kids are encouraged to come up with their own juicy book-related questions for one another, too, which helps give the entire Common Core reading experience an exciting, book-clubby feel that teachers and students love.”

Please explain to what extent this practice wasn’t common before Common core? In my experience having students asking questions, and even developing them for unit tests was a COMMON practice.

 

Before CC While kids honed their writing skills across subject areas with book reports, science projects, and homework assignments (write a paragraph using your spelling words), when it came to Language Arts, the focus was on descriptive writing — think personal narratives (“What I Did Over Summer Vacation”) and creative tales (“The Day It Snowed Ice Cream”).

In what states? In what districts? For what age group? Again are you implying that this was common practice? Or was it only where administrators limited their teachers’ creativity by buying bad material from Scholastic?

 

After CC Today, writing lessons focus on teaching kids how to communicate their ideas effectively through persuasive arguments based on evidence from original texts and other sources. 

A tall order? Yep. But it’s a communication skill that experts believe will serve kids in every area of their life — from the playground right on up to the boardroom.”

Oh? Is our national aspiration now to be a CEO or corporate board member? How about President, or even a teacher?

 

Says Steven Hinkle, a kindergarten teacher in Chattanooga, TN. “Now students must back up their opinions with fact-based reasons, like ‘I like the butterfly because it’s colorful and lives in the flowers.’ ”



Again the use of the word now falsely implies that this was never done before “now”. Where is the evidence? Is your essay devised to support a point of view or objectively present evidence?

 

As I am not an expert in Math, I will leave that to those who know it better. Perhaps you should have done more research with people who could have provided you with a longer view, to say the least, and not simply the view of Mr. Gates and those he hired. Were you prepared to actually discover that the Gates hypothesis is null, and write that as your conclusion, or were you paid not to?



 

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