Common Core State Standards

I read “Teachers Seek Ways to Gauge Rigor of Texts” by Catherine Gewertz (Education Week, vol.30, No. 24 March 16, 2011) with great interest and concern.

Context: I was snooping around the common core site to learn more about which states had adopted them (almost all of them have adopted the CCSS) and what the actual standards are and how I might discuss them in class. (I hadn’t looked closely at them in a while, so I hadn’t seen the appendices, especially the one about challenging texts with suggested titles.)

I am all for rigor and complex texts, but I’m also for student choice. I also understand that determining text rigor is a complex task in and of itself. That’s why I enjoyed reading this article about teachers who rolled their sleeves up and started tackling the task.

Here are lines that caught my attention and made me want to research it further:

“Research suggests that a trend toward less challenging texts in high school, and a tilt toward narrative texts, at the expense of informational and expository ones, have left young people particularly weak at comprehending and dissecting information from difficult texts and using it to build evidence-based arguments.”

The article goes on to say that Act did a study and found that students didn’t do so well on the reading portion of the test that contained questions about difficult texts.

My son and I talk about the difficulty of his math and science text and how reading in science is not like the reading we do in language arts all of the time.

I’ll say something like, "Did you read the math text?" and he’ll reply with something like, "Yes, but it wasn’t enough information. I think I have it now."

This article goes into the differences in discipline-based reading. I still need more information in order to help my son because while the article discussed in a great way what we already found out on our own, *it didn’t offer me much in the way of help for us when we’re poring over the Earth Science textbook trying to fill in the blanks. (I swear there has got to be a better way to write these texts.)

Want to see more related to the Common Core?

I’ve gone on too long here, but I’d love to hear your opinion about the Common Core State Standards, content area literacy, and/or the quote above. (The quote hurts me a bit, but I admit that I can only speculate about what they mean by "a trend toward less challenging texts.")

*This was probably beyond the scope of the article, but a girl has to be hopeful.