Academic journal article Language Arts

Rigorous Basic Skills: The Ironic Implementation of the Common Core

Academic journal article Language Arts

Rigorous Basic Skills: The Ironic Implementation of the Common Core

Article excerpt

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS; National Governors Association Center for Best Practices & Council of Chief State School Officers, 2010) were supposedly created to make students college- and career-ready in the 21st century. However, now that the CCSS have been fully implemented in the classroom, parents, teachers, administrators, and researchers are learning about the real impact, which is a radical narrowing of the language arts curriculum to one that I call a "rigorous basic skills" program.

The Standards work from an autonomous model that views literacy as a finite set of discrete skills representing the normalized literacies of the dominant culture (Botzakis, Burns, & Hall, 2014; Street, 1984). When highlighting the "key shifts" in English Language Arts addressed in the CCSS, there are only three listed: increased text complexity, increased use of close reading, and increased volume of nonfiction reading, all in the name of "rigor." As much as proponents argue that the CCSS do not constitute a curriculum, the implementation indicates otherwise. The CCSS were adopted quickly, with little time to prepare curriculum, and many schools are relying on curricular materials from the corporations behind the new high-stakes standardized tests on which the schools will be evaluated, furthering the endless cycle of test prep curriculum that narrows the scope of learning to basic skills.

As a parent and researcher, I have seen firsthand how the lines between the Standards and curriculum are blurred. …

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