Today the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers released the new draft of the common core standards for public comment. Yipee! I'm so happy to see these.
Here are 7 reasons you should be happy, too.
1. They are common!
Unlike any reading/writing/language standards that we have had in the past, these are truly going to be widely adhered to. In the past, we never could have common tests or common curricula because everyone had different standards. Now there will be the United States and Texas (and these are such good standards, at some point I think Texas might even decide to sign on in spite of their rugged independence.
2. They include both reading and writing.
For all kinds of reasons, schools have traditionally emphasized reading and ignored writing, even though writing instruction and activity can be powerful enhancements to reading (and they are valuable on their own, too). Because the National Reading Panel did not look at writing, reading has elbowed it aside.
3. They are consistent with the research findings.
For those who thought that when the Bush administration was kaput there would be no need to teach decoding skills to young children, that should not be the case. These standards are pretty clear on the enabling skills or foundational skills are important because they help students to meet the standards.
4. They are rigorous.
These standards are really standards--pennants held high! These are not minimal competency standards or standards that describe the performance of kids at the 20th percentile. These really do take students to high levels of literacy. If these are really taught to, we could see more kids hitting the advance level on NAEP-like assessments. Thank goodness.
5. They do not neglect reading in the content areas.
Reading in history and science become increasingly specialized as students move up through the grades, but our standards have rarely reflected this. These standards require some special responses to reading materials that are drawn from well beyond the outer borders of the English class.
6. They are up-to-date.
These standards address technological literacy demands. The new literacies are really included -- something that is not true of most current state standards. Welcome to the 21st century.
7. They emphasize the importance of text difficulty.
Usually standards specify tasks students should be able to but they neglect that those tasks are going to vary a great deal depending on the difficulty of the text. If you ask students to execute that task with an easy text, everyone meets the standard; with a hard text, and few do. These standards don't give that kind of wiggle room, which means parents will get a clearer idea of how their kids are doing relative to everyone else.
There are plenty of other things to like about these standards, but those are my top seven. But take a look yourself and let them know what you think.
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