Dr. Louisa Moats, the nationally-renowned teacher, psychologist, researcher and author, was one of the contributing writers of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
I will let Dr Moats speak for herself. I only add one comment at the end.
The following is from an interview that appeared in:
Dr. Bertin: What has actually happened in its implementation?
Dr. Moats: I never imagined when we were drafting standards in 2010 that major financial support would be funneled immediately into the development of standards-related tests. How naïve I was. The CCSS represent lofty aspirational goals for students aiming for four year, highly selective colleges.
Our lofty standards are appropriate for the most academically able, but what are we going to do for the huge numbers of kids that are going to “fail” the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) test? We need to create a wide range of educational choices and pathways to high school graduation, employment, and citizenship. The Europeans got this right a long time ago.
What is good for older students (e.g., the emphasis on text complexity, comprehension of difficult text, written composition, use of internet resources) is not necessarily good for younger students who need to acquire the basic skills of reading, writing, listening, and speaking. 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. Basic findings of reading and literacy research, information about individual differences in reading and language ability, and explicit teaching procedures are really being lost in this shuffle.
Dr. Bertin: What has the impact been on classroom teachers?
Dr. 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. I’m beginning to get messages from very frustrated educators who threw out what was working in favor of a new “CCSS aligned” program, and now find that they don’t have the tools to teach kids how to read and write. Teachers are told to use “grade level” texts, for example; if half the kids are below grade level by definition, what does the teacher do? She has to decide whether to teach “the standard” or teach the kids.
Dr. Bertin: In an article for the International Dyslexia Association, you wrote “raising standards and expectations, without sufficient attention to known cause and remedies for reading and academic failure, and without a substantial influx of new resources to educate and support teachers, is not likely to benefit students with mild, moderate, or severe learning difficulties.” You also mention that 34% of the population as a whole is behind academically in fourth grade, and in high poverty areas 70-80% of students are at risk for reading failure.
How does the CCSS impact children who turn out to need additional academic supports for learning disabilities, ADHD or other educational concerns?
Dr. Moats: I have not yet seen a well-informed policy directive that addresses the needs of these populations. There are absurd directives about “universal design for learning” and endless accommodations, like reading a test aloud, to kids with learning disabilities. Why would we want to do that? The test itself is inappropriate for many kids.
Dr. Bertin: How does it relate to concerns you have about teacher training in general?
Dr. Moats: 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.
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?
Indeed, when will THEY, the policy makers, ever learn, what we as teachers have always known. Each child is an individual.