Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Common Core and Nonfiction, Again

Writing at "Parents Across America," Arkansas professor Sandra Stotsky waxes eloquent about the destruction David Coleman is supposedly wreaking via the Common Core standards:
Why did David Coleman mandate over 50% reading time on “informational” texts in K-5 and up to 70% thereafter in the form of ten grade-level informational reading standards and nine grade-level literature standards at every educational level in the Common Core standards in English Language Arts? . . . These already weakened middle or junior high school English classes are the classes Coleman wants to see teaching over 50% informational text (or “literary nonfiction.”). . . .
Coleman’s misunderstanding of how the structure of the secondary school alters the amount of time available for all genres of literary study, compared with the time available to elementary teachers in a self-contained classroom, was apparently responsible for his mandate that over 50% of the reading time in the ELA class be devoted to informational texts (or “literary nonfiction” in the high school) from K-12. While a self-contained elementary classroom enables the teacher to use a good part of the school day for expository reading and other language arts (like public speaking), the English teacher has only 45-60 minutes a day or the equivalent in 2 blocks a week to teach everything assigned to the English curriculum. These rigid prescriptions to require more informational text (even in the form of “literary nonfiction”) make no sense when applied to the daily 45-60 minute secondary English class.
Like Diane Ravitch, Stotsky is seems to believe that David Coleman and Common Core standards are trying to mandate that 50 or more percent of English classes be spent on non-fiction.

To quote the Common Core website:
Fulfilling the Standards for 6–12 ELA requires much greater attention to a specific category of informational text—literary nonfiction—than has been traditional. Because the ELA classroom must focus on literature (stories, drama, and poetry) as well as literary nonfiction, a great deal of informational reading in grades 6–12 must take place in other classes if the NAEP assessment framework is to be matched instructionally.
The Common Core website even adds a footnote to make clear that ELA teachers are not at issue:
The percentages on the table reflect the sum of student reading, not just reading in ELA settings. Teachers of senior English classes, for example, are not required to devote 70 percent of reading to informational texts. Rather, 70 percent of student reading across the grade should be informational.


Blogger Mrs. Bennett said...

Yes, the information about English teachers and non-fiction is there, but you even made mention of the "footnote"...a footnote is made to clarify that which is unclear (and the standards are a little unclear...hence the footnote!) Consider also the "after thought" nature of a footnote.
I can see where the confusion lies; wrote about it in a post titled: "Dear Common Core, English teachers should have more than a footnote":

5:14 PM  

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