The National Standards

In a stack of papers called Reform.

  • Mar
  • 15
  • 2010

The Common Core State Standards Initiative released draft K-12 standards, open for feedback until Friday, April 2, 2010. While you may have your concerns about the notion of moving to national standards, focus on the standards you’ve been given in your feedback. Probably nothing to say that will stem the national standards tide.

English got stuck with the same adjective-riddled, subjective descriptors. To make matters worse, these Core Standards show very little distinction between grades nine/ten and eleven/twelve. Almost all of the Writing, Speaking and Listening, and Language standards are identical for nine/ten and eleven/twelve, with occasional thesaurus-aided wording keeping things from a direct cut-n-paste. Only the Reading standards vary a bit. That doesn’t say a whole lot for the usefulness of these standards.

Add to that phrases like “most relevant,” thoroughly develop,” and “effective language choices” and we’ve still got a batch of standards that mean different things to as many people as read them. What’s “thorough” to you might barely be “partial” to me. These certainly will not make testing any easier or more precise. We’ll still have lofty standards never meant to be assessed in multiple-choice format evaluated by a bubble form. Lots of “sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

My state’s current standards, as wishy-washy as they are and as much as I’ve railed against them in the past and likely will continue to do in the future, are better phrased than the Common Core standards. The high school English standards for Massachusetts (adopted in 2001) actually look suspiciously similar to my state’s (adopted in 1997). We should do what Massachusetts is doing and say a firm “No thank you” until those Core standards become concrete descriptions of skills students can either exhibit or not. Sadly, we’re not doing that.

So how did your subject area fare? Are these Core standards representative of standards better, worse, or equal to your current standards?

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