Magazine article CSLA Journal

Common Fears about the Common Core

Magazine article CSLA Journal

Common Fears about the Common Core

Article excerpt

In 2010, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Initiative published mathematics and English language arts standards for use in K-12 schools. Standardized testing correlated to the CCSS will be available by the 2014-2015 school year. The initiatives purpose is to establish goals that ensure that all students who graduate from high school have the skills they need to be successful in a college program or in the workforce. Because it is not a federal mandate, states may choose to adopt the Standards. With the majority of states approving, educators across the country are making changes in what is taught. However, when an entire country attempts to unify teaching standards, confusion is bound to occur, especially on the heels of No Child Left Behind. Perhaps some clarification will dispel the myths.

Clarification: CCSS are a Goal, Not a Manual

In the past, each new educational initiative required teachers to modify the way they taught. They built Word Walls. They divided their schedule into Four Blocks of Literacy. Teacher librarians labeled library books with levels. In many library collections, TL's separated the volumes into two groups-those with a test and those without one. Contrary to the past, in the new CCSS initiative, the Standards are a goal, not a manual. They are the finish line, so to speak, not the map that will take us there. Lack of specific lesson plans and any prescribed teaching style allows teachers the freedom to take advantage of their own teaching style, allow for differences in students and their communities, and have the opportunity to choose their own resources.

In my work with boys, I've learned that they like to know the location of the finish line. That's why rubrics work so well with them. For educators with full plates, new goals can be overwhelming. As library staff, we can provide them with the resources they need to address the fear of the unknown. Where can we find the resources for lesson plans and content that will support our students as they work toward the goal?

Clarification: Appendix B is a Sample List, not a Collection Development Tool

Though no lesson plans are included in the CCSS, the initiative does include an appendix of texts that teachers may use to teach the Standards. For example, while the ELA Standards don't suggest teaching The Grapes of Wrath to elementary students, they do require increasing text complexity, as studies show that pre-college students have not been reading at a higher level. Appendix B in the Standards provides a list of sample texts that can be used.

Teacher librarians were quick to complain that in the case of informational text, the suggested books were long out of print and probably weeded. With that in mind, teacher librarians will need to educate their staff on using the selection tools to evaluate nonfiction and informational texts, providing answers to the questions, "How do you choose texts? Why do we weed our collection?"

Clarification: Nonfiction Supplements Fiction- It Doesn't Replace It

By grade 12, students should be reading nonfiction or informational texts 70% of the time. Teachers will also teach literature in their ELA classes. In fact, there is an emphasis on literary genres throughout the Standards. The change may occur in the content area classes, such as social studies and science, where teachers can add informational texts if they aren't already supplementing textbooks with them. …

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