Common Core State Standards: (Lots of Luck)
Most of you probably remember a few years back when all of the buzz was No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Schools scrambled to meet the expectations of NCLB. Fast forward to 2013. No one seems to be talking about NCLB anymore. It’s been put away in one of the many dustbins of educational reform.
Instead, the current buzz is the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). As noted in an article on the CCSS, “The Common Core State Standards are a coherent progression of learning experiences in English language arts and mathematics designed to prepare K-12 students for college and career success.”
Let’s take a look at some of the standards under the strand for English Language Arts/Writing for first grade:
“With guidance and support from adults, focus on a topic, respond to questions and suggestions from peers, and add details to strengthen writing as needed.
“With opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic or name the book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply a reason for the opinion and provide some sense of closure.”
“Write narratives in which they recount two or more appropriately sequenced events, include some details regarding what happened, use temporal words to signal event order and provide some sense of closure.”
Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?
How about young Jarrod, though, who just completed second grade and who was recently evaluated for a learning disability. How will CCSS handle him? Jarrod cannot write a sentence, no less a persuasive essay (keeping in mind he is year beyond the above standards).
Here’s Jarrod’s essay on a story he saw on television recently, transcribed as close as possible to the original.
Songy gos to the petstoand Dosen’t hava lof of mony to get a Dog so his shakr kreg Pots in a hahoren pellets and they got 100 Dogs the sogy throo a Ball that axiDently Lah Did in ther naBr NoDm Yar D ant the Dogs get his BloBares anD he COLD the potho. Sogy and Crag weht to the pound and openD a Jarof BLOOBares and aLL of the dogs cam roh Oldt and ther NaBer was trapuled By the Dogs.
So, CCCS is going to emphasize persuasive writing and narrative discourse with Jarrod? Lots of luck.
Developmentally, Jarrod is a great distance away from writing a persuasive essay. At this stage in his development, I do not think that Jarrod could construct a sentence such as, “The duck swims on the pond,” yet he will be asked to produce a five paragraph persuasive essay (what third graders should be able to do).
Jarrod needs to be working at the sentence level. Until he has mastered the writing of a sentence, anything more than that is unfair and destined to produce frustration and anguish.
You’ve got to be kidding me.