The Common Core State Standards: A New Trajectory or an Old Rut P. David Pearson UC Berkeley Goals for today • Introduce you to the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts • Examine their potential – New possibilities: The high road on curriculum, text, and cognitive challenge – Pot holes, sink holes, and black holes • Discuss some defensible positions to take on curriculum and pedagogy • Talk about what citizens can do to monitor, support, and critique their implementation My Relationship with CCS • Member of the Validation Committee • Background work on text complexity with a grant from Gates Foundation • Long (and occasionally checkered) history with standards going back to – NBPTS: Standards for Teaching – IRA/NCTE Standards • Research and development work on assessment So why are we talking about standards? • We have had standards driving our school programs since the early 1990s • We have had national standards (supported by federal funds and professional organization), state standards and district standards. • We use them to shape curriculum, assessment, and hold our schools, teachers, and students accountable? • So why the commotion about these standards? What makes them different? What is different about these standards? • Not federal, not national, but built by two organizations (NGA and CCSSO) that represent states. • These organizations funded their development and made them available. • States could opt in or opt out • 4 state opted out: Texas, Nebraska, Alaska and one other… and maybe some drift recently… The CCSS Requires Three Shifts in ELA/Literacy* 1. Building knowledge through content-rich nonfiction 2. Reading, writing, and speaking grounded in evidence from text, both literary and informational 3. Regular practice with complex text and its academic language *From the creators of the standards 6 What is different about these standards?* • Focus on critical reading, developing valid arguments, integrated curriculum, and problem-solving. • More focus on more challenging text than in previous standards. • More focus on writing than in previous standards, particularly argumentation and explanation. • Sea Change from the logic and feel of NCLB and an enchantment with the basics. – After all, they are standards to prepare students for colleges and careers. – In principle, at least, much less directive, more opportunity for teachers to exercise professional judgment in helping students meet the performance standards. *From PDP’s reading of the standards What sold me on the standards What they said about reading • Students who meet the Standards readily undertake the close, attentive, reading that is at the heart of understanding and enjoying complex works of literature. They habitually perform the critical reading necessary to pick carefully through the staggering amount of information available today in print and digitally. They actively seek the wide, deep, and thoughtful engagement with high-quality literary and informational texts that builds knowledge, enlarges experience, and broadens world views. They reflexively demonstrate the cogent reasoning and use of evidence essential to both private deliberation and responsible citizenship in a democratic republic. (CCSSO/NGA, 2010, p. 3) So what’s not to Like? • Nothing • Everything I believe in about literacy learning What they said about teacher choice • By emphasizing required achievements, the Standards leave room for teachers, curriculum developers, and states to determine how those goals should be reached and what additional topics should be addressed. Thus, the Standards do not mandate such things as a particular writing process or the full range of metacognitive strategies that students may need to monitor and direct their thinking and learning. Teachers are thus free to provide students with whatever tools and knowledge their professional judgment and experience identify as most helpful for meeting the goals set out in the Standards. (CCSSO/NGA, 2010, p. 4). Just the right balance • Let the body politic at every level have a voice in the big overarching goals • At every level along the way, from the state to the district to the school to the classroom, leave a little room for each player to place his or her “signature” • Identity, buy-in, the right kind of political negoatiation Fundamental Question: Which is worse? or better? • 1000 state and local orthodoxies • A single national orthodoxy that we can – monitor, nurture, and, maybe even, … get right. So what are these standards? Just to remind us What students should know and be able to do to College and Career Readiness Standards enter college or the workplace… What are the benchmark performances along the Common Core State Standards way… (grade by grade) How we will know whether students are achieving Assessments to measure their mastery the benchmarks and are C&C ready… 10 recurring standards for College and Career Readiness Show up grade after grade In more complex applications to more sophisticated texts Across the disciplines of literature, science, and social studies Their virtues… • The comprehension standards are consistent with our best, research-based knowledge about the comprehension process. • They recognize that reading and writing and speaking, while sharing much in common, are enacted differently in each discipline. • They invite all teachers to support the acquisition of literacy in their disciplines. – They promote the integration of knowledge acquisition and language/literacy development – Shared responsibility for enactment More virtues • Focus on the larger goals of curriculum and teaching, leaving prerogative at the local level. • An elaborated theory of text complexity that entails qualitative as well as quantitative indicators of text challenge. Unpacking the Virtues Elaborated Theory of Text Complexity • Quantitative: A number that tells you the grade level of the text – Lexile is the most common metric • Qualitative: Aspects of text that bring special challenges: Knowledge demands, syntax or vocabulary, figurative language… • Reader and Task: What must a teacher do to make particular texts accessible to particular students? Why text complexity? The gap for college and career readiness Jack Stenner’s (lexile guy) depiction of the 200 lexile gap Vices… • Implementation! • Implementation! • Implementation? Texts #1 for today: The best laid plans of mice and men will often go awry. • Robert Burns' poem To a Mouse, 1786. • But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane [you aren't alone] • In proving foresight may be vain: • The best laid schemes o' mice an' men Gang aft a-gley, [often go awry] • An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain, For promised joy. Text #2 • There's many a slip between cup and lip • Greek legend in which one of the Argonauts returns home to his winery What to watch out for…the “holes” • Will they deliver on the promise of local and teacher prerogative? • Will they stay true to the challenge of critical understanding of text? • Will we be up to the challenge of integrated curriculum across the disciplines? • Can we meet the challenge of more complex texts at every grade level? • Will we get tests to match our aspirations for instruction? Pothole #1: Prerogative • The nub of the problem: The more specific they get about what constitutes good curriculum for achieving these standard, the more they erode local choice in implementing them. • The standards undergo many changes and contortions from one grade to the next to give the appearance of a progression of difficulty in task. – An elusive but unwarranted progression – Monitor with anchor standards and offer more prerogative to teachers. Pothole #2: Maintaining the critical edge in comprehension and writing Text dependency of questions • Regarding the nature of texts: “A significant percentage of tasks and questions are text dependent…Rigorous text-dependent questions require students to demonstrate that they not only can follow the details of what is explicitly stated but also are able to make valid claims that square with all the evidence in the text. Textdependent questions do not require information or evidence from outside the text or texts; they establish what follows and what does not follow from the text itself.” (page 6) Stay close to the text • Staying close to the text. “Materials make the text the focus of instruction by avoiding features that distract from the text. Teachers’ guides or students’ editions of curriculum materials should highlight the reading selections…Given the focus of the Common Core State Standards, publishers should be extremely sparing in offering activities that are not text based.” Will we keep the critical and integrative edge in comprehension activities? • A lot of questions are text based – What is the author’s fundamental argument? – What are the epistemological assumptions underlying the author’s argument? – How does the author’s argument square with other and more common views on this issue? – Whose interests are best served, in the long run, by the author’s argument? Pothole #3: Will we really deliver on the integrated curriculum challenge? • We have nearly a century’s worth of experience in increasingly segregating curriculum into silos? • What makes us think we can manage to weave together the goals of knowledge and literacy acquisition? Language Arts Social Studies Science Mathematics Our current view of curriculum Pothole #4: Are we up to the challenge of more complex texts at every grade? • Why should we believe that we can up the ante when we can’t meet the current challenge? • Not unless we develop a much more elaborate and richer set of scaffolds to offer students when we ask them to read more challenging texts, – Especially in the early grades – Especially for students who are currently striving mightily to keep up with grade level expectations. • This may be the Achilles Heel of the CCSS. Pothole #5: Will we have tests to match our vision of teaching and learning? • You decide… • These are taken from the Smarter Balanced Website… • http://www.smarterbalanced.org/sampleitems-and-performance-tasks/ • • • • • • • • • • Grandma Ruth Last night I learned that my grandma was named after Babe Ruth, the greatest baseball player of all time. I learned this six hours too late. Yesterday I wanted to work on throwing a baseball. I needed a baseball, since my brother wouldn’t let me borrow his. Unfortunately, I knew right where one was. I tiptoed into my grandma’s bedroom. Sunlight from the late morning sun filtered in through the leaves of the dogwood tree outside the open window. I moved slowly through my favorite room in the house, which belonged to my favorite person in the world, my grandma. I reached into the back of her closet and pulled out a shoebox full of old baseballs wrapped in tissue paper. I shoved my hand in and grabbed the first one I touched. I threw off the paper and ran out into the yard with our dog, Bowie, who would always play a game of catch with me. We had a spectacular game of catch. By the end of our session I was throwing straight as an arrow and Bowie was bringing it back as fast as he could. It was perfect. I went back into my grandma’s room and wrapped the ball back up in paper, just like I’d found it. Except now it looked dirty and used, like a good baseball should. At dinner, though, I heard the story. “Have I ever told you that I’m named after the greatest baseball player who ever lived?” Grandma asked suddenly. James and I shook our heads. We leaned forward to listen. It isn’t often we hear new stories from her. • My grandmother stood up and walked into her bedroom. She came back with the shoebox in her hands. She sat down and started her story. • “So, your great-grandfather was the dentist for the Detroit Tigers back in the 1920s. His favorite player was Ty Cobb, the best player the Tigers have ever had. When Ty found out that • your great-grandparents were going to have a baby, he brought your great-grandfather a big package full of baseballs signed by the best-known players of the time. He said, ‘Doc, you can have these under one condition: name your daughter Tyrina. After me.’ And my father, too excited to say no, agreed. • “When my mother heard about this she told my father to go to Ty Cobb and give him back the baseballs, because she had her own ideas for names. Ty just laughed when he heard this. He said to my father, ‘Doc, I’ll tell you what: keep the baseballs but name her after my good friend Babe Ruth.’ • “My father smiled and said, ‘I’ll see what I can do. Keep these for me until then.’ • “It turned out my mother loved the name Ruth. That’s how I got my name and how my father got these: he let Ty Cobb name me after Babe Ruth.” • • • • • • I tried to swallow but couldn’t. I hoped that she wasn’t going to say what I thought she was going to say. Then she said it. “In this shoebox are the ten baseballs Ty Cobb gave my father. They are signed by some of the most famous ballplayers in history, including one that has one single signature on it: Babe Ruth’s.” My grandma pulled the ball out, unwrapped it, and held it out for us to see. The ball was scarred almost beyond recognition. It had dog bite marks, dirt scuffs, and fraying seams. Right in the middle was a big signature in black ink that I had somehow overlooked. It was smudged now and faded, but it still clearly said “Babe Ruth.” I began to shake inside. But my grandma just looked at the ball and smiled sweetly. She said softly, “Even though it doesn’t look like much, this ball has brought our family a lot of joy in its time. I remember when I was your age, Naomi, I almost rubbed the signature right off from tossing it up and down all the time. You see, I’ve always felt that a baseball should be used for a lot more than looking. My dad, your great-grandfather, used to say the same thing.” She lowered her hand and gently tossed the ball toward Bowie, sleeping by the door. It rolled in a perfectly straight line and came to rest softly between the dog’s paws. A perfect throw. http://sampleitems.smarterbalanced.org/itempr eview/ • What does Naomi learn about Grandma Ruth? Use details from the text to support your answer. • Type your answer in the space provided. Using text details to support an inference or generalization… From Smarter Balanced. • Select three sentences that show that Naomi is worried she has done something wrong. Using text details to support an inference or generalization… From Smarter Balanced. • • • • • • • • • The following is the beginning of a story that a student is writing for a class assignment. The story needs more details and an ending. Read the beginning of the story and then complete the task that follows. Oliver’s Big Splash Oliver was a dog that lived in a small town near a lake. He loved to play outside. Oliver liked to play fetch, but his favorite thing to do was to chase leaves. He loved chasing leaves so much that his favorite time of year was fall when the leaves fell off the trees. One beautiful fall day, Oliver and his owner, Jeff, went for a walk around the lake. They were enjoying the sunshine and the lake when suddenly a dragonfly flew past. For a moment, Oliver forgot where he and Jeff were and what they were doing. All of a sudden there was a big splash. Write an ending for the story by adding details to tell what happens next. From Smarter Balanced. Why There Should Be a Longer School Day Schools should have a longer school day for students. First, students could learn more about different subjects if the school day were longer. Also, students could get extra help from teachers. More hours in class each day would also mean more vacations scattered throughout the year! • Now look at the following daily schedule for a school that has switched to a longer school day. • • • • • • • • • • • • • 8:00 8:20 9:30 10:30 10:45 11:45 12:45 1:45 2:15 2:45 3:30 3:45 Morning Announcements Reading Language Arts Foreign Language Morning Recess Mathematics Lunch History Art or Music Afternoon Recess Science Homework Preparation After-School Tutoring or Sports • Revise the paragraph by adding details from the daily schedule that help support the reasons for having a longer school day. From Smarter Balanced. So what’s a school to do… • Stay closer to the standards than to the interpretations of the standards we have seen thus far. • Pay more attention to the anchor standards than to the grade level instantiations of them. • Work to make sure they get revised so that the pot holes, sink holes, and black holes are kept at bay… So what can a parent or group of citizens do? • Learn about your school’s plan for addressing the standards. • Find out how the staff can use your help. • Support teachers in addressing the amount and challenge of reading needed to meet these standards with some personal home reading program for each of your children. • Engage in rich conversations about the books your children and grandchildre are reading in school and on their own. • Enjoy the fact that at least for a while, we are on an upward swing in curriculum—where students will gain access to more challenging tasks that will expand their opportunities in future grades and beyond the school. • Deeper Learning Hopes for the standards… • I’m hangin’ in there for the near term. • They are still the best game in town • They are moving in the right direction in terms of reading theory and research—deeper learning. • Hoping they prove to be a living document – Regularly revised with advances in • our knowledge of reading • research on their “consequences” More on the topic • • • • • Go to www.scienceandliteracy.org Go to research and publications Look for pdavidpearson I’ll post this powerpoint… Also – Pearson, P. D. (2013). Research foundations for the Common Core State Standards in English language arts. In S. Neuman and L. Gambrell (Eds.), Quality reading instruction in the age of Common Core State Standards (pp. 237-262). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.