Friday, May 3, 2013

Reading for Literature AND Information (CCSS 10)

10. Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.
Above, the tenth and last of the Common Core anchor standards for reading.

This standard sums up the three "key ideas and details" standards,  the three "craft and structure" standards, and the three "integration of knowledge and ideas" standards I blogged earlier this week.   It adds that students need to be able to handle the complexity of documents they will have to use on the job and in higher education.

It also carries two additional points central to Common Core:

  • First, "complex texts" are what students must master.  Appendix A to the Common Core lays out the key reasons, giving evidence that students who can handle simple readings may not be ready for the reading that matters for adult success, and plenty of evidence that the reading needed for adult success is getting more demanding as technology and global competition expand.
  • Second, reading literary texts--both fiction and eloquent non-fiction--is part of what students should be able to do, but not all of what they need.  They also must be able to read about community, national, and global issues, political challenges, scientific discoveries, and technical applications of those discoveries.  Recently, there's been an odd worry that English teachers will have to teach the informational texts and end up dropping most poems and plays, but that's simply a mistake.  Common Core is quite clear that informational reading should happen most of all in science and history and career/technical classes, so that students are reading to learn those important fields.

To be clear, I don't think Common Core is a magic wand that solves all problems. On the contrary, our teachers have plenty of further work to do, designing how they'll teach each day, check what students have learned, and make ongoing adjustments to move each student to these standards. But setting clear, brief, very high, very smart standards, Common Core lays the right cornerstone so that teachers have solid place to start on the rest of the building.  I think we've done this step right, and I'm proud that Kentucky is leading the nation on the steps that come next.

Next week: writing standards.

You can download the complete Common Core State Standards here. They were developed by organizations of governors and chief state school officers like Kentucky's Commissioner of Education, and they've been adopted by 46 states (47 for the mathematics standards).

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