Archive for the ‘Dr. Sandra Stotsky’ Tag

Questions for Congressional Betsy DeVos Hearing: Letter from Grassroots Nationwide Coalition   1 comment

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Nationwide Coalition letter

linked at Florida’s Stop Common Core Coalition here.

 

January 9, 2017

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee

428 Senate Dirksen Office Building, Washington, DC 20510

 

Dear Chairman Alexander, Ranking Member Murray, and Members of the Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions Committee,

 

We, the undersigned leaders of a nationwide coalition of grassroots parent groups, wish to raise significant concerns about Secretary-designate Betsy DeVos, and request that you ask her these questions about education, standards, privacy and autonomy issues:

1) We understand that your website statement right after your appointment that you are “not a supporter – period” of Common Core was meant to reassure activists that you oppose the standards and will honor Mr. Trump’s promise to get rid of Common Core.

Please list your efforts during your extensive period of education activism and philanthropy to fight the implementation of the standards.

2) In your November 23 website statement you mention “high standards,” and in the Trump Transition Team readout of your November 19th meeting with the president-elect, you reportedly discussed “higher national standards.”

Please explain how this is different from Common Core. Also, please justify this stand in light of the lack of constitutional and statutory authority for the federal government to involve itself in standards, and in light of Mr. Trump’s promise to stop Common Core, make education local, and scale back or abolish the U.S. Department of Education.

3) Would you please reconcile your website statement that you are “not a supporter – period” of Common Core with your record of education advocacy in Michigan and elsewhere – specifically, when you have, either individually or through your organizations (especially the Great Lakes Education Project (GLEP) that you founded and chaired, and of which your family foundation is still the majority funder):

 Been described as supporting Common Core by Tonya Allen of the Skillman Foundation in the Detroit News?

 Actively worked to block a bill that would have repealed and replaced Michigan’s Common Core standards with the Massachusetts standards, arguably the best in the nation?

 Actively lobbied for continued implementation of Common Core in Michigan?

 Financially supported pro-Common Core candidates in Michigan?

 Funded Alabama pro-Common Core state school board candidates?

 Threatened the grassroots parent organization Stop Common Core in Michigan with legal action for showing the link between GLEP endorsement and Common Core support?

4) The Indiana voucher law that you and your organization, the American Federation for Children (AFC), strongly supported and funded requires voucher recipient schools to administer the public school Common Core-aligned tests and submit to the grading system based on those same Common Core-aligned tests. The tests determine what is taught, which means that this law is imposing Common Core on private schools. Indiana “is the secondworst in the country on infringing on private school autonomy” according to the Center for Education Reform because of that and other onerous requirements, and the state received an F grade on the Education Liberty Watch School Choice Freedom Grading Scale.

Do you support imposing public-school standards, curriculum and tests on private and or home schools?

5) Through Excel in Ed and the American Federation for Children, you have influenced legislation that has made Florida a “leader” in school choice, yet the majority of students, especially those in rural areas, in states like Florida, still chooses to attend traditional public schools. Public school advocates in Florida complain that expanded school choice has negatively affected their traditional public schools, even in previously high performing districts.

As Secretary of Education, how will you support the rights of parents and communities whose first choice is their community’s traditional public school?

6) You and AFC have been strong supporters of federal Title I portability. As Secretary of Education, would you require the same public school, Common Core tests and the rest of the federal regulations for private schools under a Title I portability program as Jeb Bush recommended for Mitt Romney in 2012 (p. 24)? If yes, please cite the constitutional authority for the federal government to be involved in regulating schools, including private schools, and explain how this policy squares with Mr. Trump’s promise to reduce the federal education footprint.

7) The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires secretarial approval of state education plans for standards, tests and accountability. Will you support state sovereignty by approving the state plans in line with Mr. Trump’s vision of decreasing the federal role in education, or will you exercise federal control by secretarial veto power over these plans?

8) The Philanthropy Roundtable group that you chaired published a report on charter schools, but did not mention the Hillsdale classical charter schools, even though they are in your home state of Michigan and Hillsdale is nationally renowned for its classical and constitutional teaching and for not taking federal funding. Have you or any of your organizations done anything substantive to support the Hillsdale model aside from a few brief mentions on your websites? If not, do you want all charter schools in Michigan and elsewhere to only teach Common Core-aligned standards, curriculum and tests?

9) During the primary campaign, President-elect Trump indicated that he strongly supported student privacy by closing the loopholes in the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), saying the following to a parent activist:

I would close all of it,” Trump replied. “You have to have privacy. You have to have privacy. So I’d close all of it. But, most of all, I’d get everything out of Washington, ‘cause that’s where it’s all emanating from.

Will you commit to reversing the Obama administration’s regulatory gutting of FERPA and to updating that statute to better protect student privacy in the digital age?

10) We are sure you are aware of serious parental concerns about corporate collection and mining of highly sensitive student data through digital platforms, without parental knowledge or consent. But the Philanthropy Roundtable, which you chaired, published a report called Blended Learning: A Wise Giver’s Guide to Supporting Tech-assisted Teaching that lauds the Dream Box software that “records 50,000 data points per student per hour” and does not contain a single use of the words “privacy,” “transparency” [as in who receives that data and how it is used to make life-changing decision for children], or “consent.”

Will you continue to promote the corporate data-mining efforts of enterprises such as Dream Box and Knewton, whose CEO bragged about collecting “5-10 million data points per user per day,” described in your organization’s report?

11) Related to Questions 9 and 10 above, there is currently a federal commission, the Commission on Evidence-based Policymaking, which is discussing lifting the federal prohibition on the creation of a student unit-record system. If that prohibition is removed, the federal government would be allowed to maintain a database linking student data from preschool through the workforce. That idea is strongly opposed by parent groups and privacy organizations.

Will you commit to protecting student privacy by recommending to the Commission on EvidenceBased Policymaking that this prohibition be left in place?

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12) As outlined in a letter from Liberty Counsel that was co-signed by dozens of parent groups across the nation, the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) plans to add subjective, invasive, illegal, and unconstitutional survey or test mindset questions to the 2017 administration of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

What will you do to rein in NAGB and protect the psychological privacy and freedom of conscience of American students?

13) Through commissions, programs, federally funded groups, the newly passed Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the proposed Strengthening Education Through Research Act, and other entities, there has been an explosion of effort to expand invasive, subjective social emotional learning (SEL) standards, curricula and assessment.

What is your view of SEL and what will you do to protect student psychological privacy and freedom of conscience?

Thank you for your willingness to hear and address the concerns of hundreds of thousands of parents across this nation.

Should you need any further detail on any of these issues, I am acting as point of contact for this coalition.

Karen R. Effrem, MD President – Education Liberty Watch

http://www.edlibertywatch.org

Office: 952-361-4931

Mobile: 763-458-7119

dockaren@edlibertywatch.org

 

Sincerely,

 

National Organizations and Education Policy Leaders

Karen R. Effrem, MD – President, Education Liberty Watch

Sandra Stotsky, Professor of Education emerita, 21st Century Chair in Teacher Quality, University of Arkansas

Eunie Smith, Acting President & Mary Potter Summa, National Issues Chair – Eagle Forum

Angela Davidson Weinzinger – Leader, Parents and Educators Against Common Core Standards

Donna G. Garner, Retired Teacher and EdViews.org Policy Commentator

Christel Swasey – Advisory Board Member, United States Parents Involved in Education

Shane Vander Hart – Caffeinated Thoughts

Teri Sasseville – Special Ed Advocates to Stop Common Core

Michelle Earle – Founder and Administrator, Twitter Stop Federal Education Mandates in the U.S

Gudrun & Tim Hinderberger – Founding Administrators & Michelle Earle, Co-administrator, Americans Against Common Core Group

Alice Linahan, Vice-President – Women on the Wall

Teri Sasseville – Stop Early Childhood Common Core

Lynne M Taylor – Common Core Diva, education researcher and activist

 

State Organizations and Education Policy Leaders

Alabama

Betty Peters – Member, Alabama State Board of Education 

Arkansas

Jennifer Helms, PhD, RN – President, Arkansans for Education Freedom

California

Orlean Koehle – President, California Eagle Forum

Orlean Koehle – Director, Californians United Against Common Core

Florida

Karen R. Effrem, MD – Executive Director, Florida Stop Common Core Coalition

Meredith Mears, Debbie Higgenbotham, Stacie Clark – FL Parents RISE Keith Flaugh – Florida Citizens Alliance

Janet O McDonald, M.Ed., LMT, Neurodevelopmental Specialist & Instructor – Member, Flagler County School Board, District 2

Catherine Baer – Chairwoman, The Tea Party Network

Suzette Lopez – Accountabaloney

Sue Woltanski – Minimize Testing Maximize Learning

Beth Overholt, MSW – Chair, Opt Out Leon County

Deb Gerry Herbage – Founder, Exposed Blog

Lamarre Notargiacomo – Indian River Coalition 4 Educational Freedom

Charlotte Greenbarg – President, Independent Voices for Better Education

Georgia

Teri Sasseville – Georgians to Stop Common Core

Idaho

Stephanie Froerer Zimmerman – Founder, Idahoans for Local Education

Indiana

Donald Bauder – V.P Hamilton County Grassroots Conservatives

Iowa

Shane Vander Hart and Leslie Beck – Iowa RestoreEd

Kansas

Lisa Huesers, Courtney Rankin, Rosy Schmidt – Kansans Against Common Core

Kentucky

Shirley Daniels – Kentucky Eagle Forum

Louisiana

Dr. Elizabeth Meyers, Dr. Anna Arthurs, Mrs. Mary Kass, Mrs. Terri Temmcke – Stop Common Core in Louisiana

Michigan

Deborah DeBacker, Tamara Carlone, Melanie Kurdys , & Karen Braun – Stop Common Core in Michigan

Minnesota

Linda Bell, founder; Kerstin Hardley-Schulz, & Chris Daniels – Minnesota Advocates and Champions for Children

Jennifer Black-Allen and Anne Taylor – MACC Refuse the Tests

Nevada

Karen Briske – Stop Common Core in Nevada

New Hampshire

Ken Eyring – Member, Windham School Board

New York

Michelle Earle – Founder and Administrator, Stop Common Core and Federal Education Mandates in the Fingerlakes, NY

Alphonsine Englerth – Advocate & Founder, Flo’s Advocacy for Better Education in NYS

Ohio

Heidi Huber – Ohioans for Local Control

Oklahoma Jenni White – Education Director, Restore Oklahoma Parental Empowerment

Tennessee

Karen Bracken – President/Founder, Tennessee Against Common Core Bobbie Patray – President, Tennessee Eagle Forum

Texas

Lynn Davenport – Parents Encouraging A Classical Education (PEACE)

Mellany Lamb – Texans Against Common Core

Meg Bakich – Leader, Truth in Texas Education

A. Patrick Huff – Adjunct Professor, University of St. Thomas

Utah Michelle Boulter – Member, Utah State Board of Education, District 15, as an individual

Wendy K. Hart – Member, Alpine School District Board of Education, ASD2, as an individual

Oak Norton – Executive Director, Agency Based Education

Gayle Ruzicka – President, Utah Eagle Forum

Oak Norton and Christel Swasey – Co-Founders, Utahns Against Common Core

Dr. Gary Thompson – Founder, Early Life Psychology, Inc.

West Virginia

Angela Summers – WV Against Common Core

Washington

JR Wilson – Stop Common Core in Washington State

Leah Huck, Karen W. Larsen, and Breann Treffry, Administrators – Washington State Against Common Core

Wisconsin

Jeffrey Horn – Stop Common Core in Wisconsin

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Dr. Stotsky Exposes MA Supreme Court’s Stopping of Voters From Opportunity to Repeal Common Core   1 comment

Guest post by Dr. Sandra Stotsky, published with permission from the author;

article was originally published July 8, 2016 at New Boston Post.

Dr. Sandra Stotsky

       Dr. Sandra Stotsky

 

Last week, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts stopped voters from weighing in on a citizen-backed initiative to repeal Common Core.

In her opinion, Chief Justice Margot Botsford blocked on a technicality the petition to let voters decide whether to keep Common Core or revert to the state’s own educational standards. Her reasoning? The measure, she wrote, was unconstitutional because the portion of the ballot question that required the state to release used test items is unrelated to the transparency of state tests.

Got that? Justice Botsford thinks that release of used test items is unrelated to the transparency of state tests and standards as a matter of coherent public policy.

It was an oddly-reasoned decision since any classroom teacher in Massachusetts could have told her that the annual release of all used MCAS test items in the Bay State, from 1998 to 2007, was clearly related to the transparency of the state tests and very useful to classroom teachers. Among other things, the information allowed teachers to find out exactly what students in their classes did or did not do well and to improve their teaching skills for the next year’s cohort of students.

Botsford could have asked test experts as well. Any test expert would also have told her that the transparency of an assessment begins with an examination of the test items on it, followed up first by the names and positions of the experts who vetted the items on all tests at each grade level, and then by information on how the pass/fail scores for each performance level were determined, and the names and positions of those who determined them.

Botsford could also have found out from the testimony of those involved with the state’s tests from 1998 to 2007 that the cost of replacing released test items is negligible. It is not clear if her unsupported belief that there is a high cost for replacing released test items was what led her to conclude that the petition addressed matters that were unrelated to each other. As Botsford indicated in her ruling, “the goal of the petition…

… comes with a significant price tag: as the Attorney General agreed in oral argument before this court, implementing section 4 will require the development and creation of a completely new comprehensive diagnostic test every year, which means a substantial increase in annual expense for the board — an expense to be borne by taxpayers and to be weighed by voters in determining whether increased transparency is worth the cost.

In 2015, Attorney General Maura Healey certified the petition for placement on the November 2016 election ballot. But the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE) was not content to let the democratic process play out, so they brought a lawsuit — seemingly paid for by grants to the MBAE from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — to stop the matter from ever reaching the voters.

Both Botsford’s decision that the petition was unconstitutional and the unanimous agreement by the other justices as part of a “full court” session are puzzling, given the thorough review the petition had received from the Attorney General’s office. Here is how one of the pro bono lawyers who wrote the petition for the organization collecting signatures to place it on the November 2016 ballot described the vetting process to me (in a personal e-mail):

The process for an initiative petition has a series of check points. The initial draft is reviewed by the staff in the Government Bureau in the Attorney General’s Office (AGO). They look at the proposal to identify whether the proposal meets the threshold of the Constitutional requirements. The Government Bureau is made up of the best attorneys in state government. This review raised no flags.

After the collection of the signatures and submission to the AGO, the language is published and offered for public comment. It was at this point (in 2015) that the MBAE weighed in and opposed the petition (in a Memorandum of Opposition), using arguments that were dismissed by the AGO but that were later used in 2016 with the Supreme Judicial Court (as part of the MBAE’s lawsuit). In 2015, the review includes the staff attorney who oversees the petitions, the chief of the Government Bureau, the chief of the Executive Office (the policy-making administrative part of the AGO) and the Attorney General herself. This is a strictly legal discussion on the merits. … In my opinion, she decided it on the legal issues alone. And she and her staff decided that the petition passed the Constitutional requirements.

Now there can be legitimate differences on legal issues. But we structured the petition with the advice of a former U.S. attorney and his staff at his law firm. We passed several reviews at the Attorney General’s Office, including a contested review. The AGO’s brief on behalf of the petition was strong.

We had a petition that was complete, parrying threats that would have undermined the repeal of Common Core. The Attorney General understood that and supported our desire to bring it before the public.

To date, the parent organization that collected about 100,000 signatures for the petition has received no explanation from the lawyers who wrote the petition for them about why there was a unanimous decision by the Supreme Judicial Court that the petition was unconstitutional (on the grounds that there was a lack of connection among its sections, even though all the sections were in the original statute passed by the state legislature in 1993—a statute that was never criticized as incoherent). Nor has there been any word from the Attorney General’s office.

By preventing the voters from having their say, the Massachusetts court did a disservice not only to our public schools – which were better off under Massachusetts’ own rigorous academic standards — but even more to the institution of democracy itself.

 

Sandra Stotsky, former Senior Associate Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Education, is Professor of Education emerita at the University of Arkansas. Read her past columns here.

Can Parents Combat the Media’s Tolerance of Institutional Manipulation?   Leave a comment

Guest post by Dr. Sandra Stotsky

This week, the New Boston Post published this article by Dr. Sandra Stotsky, which is republished here with the author’s permission.

Dr. Sandra Stotsky

Dr. Sandra Stotsky

The efforts by the Gates Foundation to manipulate our major institutions lie at a very deep level in order to remain difficult to detect. Its efforts have been made much easier because our media don’t seem to care if the manipulation is done by a “generous philanthropist,” someone with an extraordinary amount of money and ostensibly the best of intentions for other people’s children. At least, this is how they seem to rationalize their tolerance of political manipulation by moneyed and self-described do-gooders—and their unwillingness to dig into the details.

As one example, we can surmise that Gates gave the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE) the funds it would need to pay a very pricey Boston law firm (Foley Hoag) for its 2015 Memorandum of Opposition to the citizen petition asking for a ballot question on Common Core and for the MBAE’s 2016 lawsuit against the Attorney General. We can assume the connection because Gates gave the MBAE large funds in recent years under the guise of “operating” costs. Until Judge Margot Botsford sings, we will not know her reason for using the flawed argument that had been worked out by Foley Hoag for the MBAE 2015 Memorandum of Opposition and that had already been rejected by the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) when it declared the citizen petition constitutional in September 2015. The flawed argument, to remind readers, was that the release of used test items is NOT related to the transparency of a test—an illogical statement that most Bay State teachers would recognize as reflecting more the thinking of the Red Queen or Duchess in Wonderland than that of a rational judge. Moreover, the flawed argument was supported unanimously by Judge Botsford’s colleagues on the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC). Not a murmur of dissent is on record.

Why Foley Hoag repeated the flawed argument it first offered in the 2015 MBAE Memo of Opposition in the 2016 MBAE lawsuit is something only the well-paid lawyers at Foley Hoag can explain. Why Judge Botsford and her colleagues on the SJC so readily used an already rejected and poorly reasoned argument for a “full court” opinion in July 2016 is what only she (and they) can explain. The end result of this fiasco is a corrupted judiciary and legal process. But how many reporters have spent time looking into this matter?

The Boston Globe published a long article the very day Judge Botsford’s decision was released (an amazing feat in itself) that revealed no inquiry by the reporter, Eric Moskowitz, into some of the interesting details of the ultimately successful effort by the MBAE and Gates to prevent voters from having an opportunity to vote on Common Core’s standards. Recall that these were the standards that had been hastily adopted by the state board of education in July 2010 to prevent deliberation on them by parents, state legislators, teachers, local school committee members, and higher education teaching faculty in the Bay State in mathematics and English.

As another example, we know from 1099 filings that the Gates Foundation gave over $7 million in 2014 to Teach Plus, a Boston-area teacher training organization, to testify for tests based on Common Core standards at Governor Baker-requested public hearings in 2015. These hearings were led by the chair of the state board of education and attended by the governor’s secretary of education. Teach Plus members earned their Gates money testifying at these hearings. (See the spreadsheet for the amounts) For links to all the testimony at these hearings, see Appendix B here. Has any reporter remarked on what many see as an unethical practice?

As yet another example, it is widely rumored that the Gates Foundation also paid for the writing of the 1000-page rewrite of No Child Left Behind known as Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). It is public knowledge that Senators Lamar Alexander (TN-R) and Patty Murray ((WA-D) co-sponsored the bill, but the two senators have been remarkably quiet about ESSA’s authorship. No reporter has commented on the matter, or reported asking the senators who wrote the bill and who paid for the bill.

In addition, the accountability regulations for ESSA now available for public comment were not written by the USED-selected committees (who failed to come to consensus on any major issue), but by bureaucrats in the USED. Who gave the USED permission to write the accountability regulations it wanted, and who wrote them? No reporter has expressed any interest in finding out who these faceless bureaucrats are. Why?

 

Sandra Stotsky, former Senior Associate Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Education, is Professor of Education emerita at the University of Arkansas. 

New Book by Sandra Stotsky: An Empty Curriculum   2 comments

Dr. Sandra Stotsky’s new book, An Empty Curriculum, discusses the trouble that has arisen from weak teacher licensing expectations, easy teacher tests, and the recruiting of teacher candidates from the lowest third of graduating classes. She points to South Korea, Finland, and Singapore which recruit teachers from the top third of their classes; America does the opposite.

Stotsky notes that states must have the fortitude to let under-qualified candidates fail.  She calls on everyone involved in the education of children to model academic excellence.

In his review of the book, Michael Poliakoff explains: “Dr. Stotsky explodes the convenient and comforting belief that state regulations are a reliable assurance that teachers are academically competent to teach the subjects they were legally licensed to teach. These tests often set a standard well below reasonable expectations for a college student, much less a college senior or college graduate” (pp. 105–107).

 Read the rest of the review here.  Buy the book here.
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Dr. Sandra Stotsky’s June 2015 Testimony at Bridgewater State University – Public Hearing   16 comments

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Before I post Dr. Sandra Stotsky’s most recent testimony, I will tell you why I am a devoted fan of Dr. Stotsky and why I’m a tomato-thrower at the Common Core version of English Language Arts.

Despite its charming claims, Common Core deforms –not reforms– the English classroom.

Common Core stifles the joy of learning by limiting students’ exposure to imaginative literature, limiting students’ practice of imaginative writing, and pushing students toward utilitarian readings and informational writings.

It also closes what used to be a wide door to the treasure trove of the classics– now the trove is shut, to only a crack.  By their senior year in virtually every high school across this land, American students are only allowed to have 30% of their readings be imaginative or classical readings; 70% is “informational text” under Common Core.  It’s frankly stupid.  But why?

Why the change in focus?

Here’s a clue. Common Core standards were drawn up primarily by a businessman, David Coleman, at Achieve Incorporated.  This workforce and business-eye’s-view explains why Common Core standards focus on language as business, not as heritage. It may explain why Common Core’s centerpiece is imagination-less,  with a focus on teaching impersonal, non-narrative, (aka boring) writing skills.  It may explain why tests aligned to Coleman’s standards invite students to write only from narrow selections of pre-cut opinion samples.

Of course, getting a job is one facet of education; but the Common Core’s dogged focus on that alone, on making individuals into state-inventoried human capital whose purpose is to get skills and get to work, comes at high cost.  One of the costs is literature.

Common Core’s ravishing of proper English education, and its focus on utilitarian, workforce-centric skills above actual literary knowledge, has been amply expressed in white papers, scholarly articles, interviews, books and more, by top literature professors across the United States.  (Please study these professors’ wise words.  I won’t take the space now.)  Dr. Stotsky’s friend, Dr. Anthony Esolen, nutshelled it this way:

“It is rotten because its whole approach to education is wrong; it is based upon a wrong understanding of the human person.  That is why it has no real place for the humanities, reducing them to occasions for scrambling up “skills,” rather than for opportunities to grow wise, to learn how to behold and cherish what is beautiful, and to build up the intellectual / moral virtues…” 

Cheer as Dr. Stotsky stands in the ring, gloves off, representing me, you, and countless teachers and professors, whose dedicated scholarship and love are sunshine and water to sprouting, thriving student minds!  Know that Dr. Stotsky is not someone that America can easily ignore or dismiss: she served on the original validation committee for Common Core ELA standards– and after studying them, she refused to sign them off as being adequate or valid standards; for years thereafter, she has spoken and published on this subject, fighting for the free exercise of academic thought, access to good and proper English education, and meaningful, reasonable school tests.  

As a lifelong author of and professor of curricular standards, as editor of a premier research journal on English teaching, as one who truly understands why legitimate English education is a treasure worth defending, she can right the toppled applecart –if enough people hear what she’s saying.

Please share.  

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   Why Massachusetts Should Abandon the PARCC tests and

      the 2011 Coleman et al English Language Arts Standards

                               on which the MCAS Tests are Based

             Sandra Stotsky

              June 10, 2015

                                                                 

 

Acknowledgments:  I want to thank Chairman Paul Sagan of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education for his invitation to testify at the public hearing at Bridgewater State University on whether the Board should abandon the MCAS tests and adopt the PARCC tests. 

Overview of my Testimony:  I first describe my qualifications, as well as the lack of relevant qualifications in Common Core’s standards writers and in most of the members of Common Core’s Validation Committee, on which I served in 2009-2010.  I then detail some of the many problems in the 2011 Massachusetts English language arts (ELA) standards, written by David Coleman, Susan Pimentel, James Patterson, and Susan Wheltle (so the document indicates), in the tests based on Common Core’s standards (PARCC), and in the two external reports—one issued in February 2015, the other yet to be completed—comparing the PARCC tests with MCAS tests. I offer several recommendations for parents who want civically sound and academically rigorous standards and tests written and reviewed by English teachers and who want a form of accountability that doesn’t penalize their children’s teachers for results of tests based on either the Coleman et al standards or Common Core’s standards.

I.  My Qualifications: I am professor emerita at the University of Arkansas, where I held the 21st Century Chair in Teacher Quality until retiring in 2012. I was Senior Associate Commissioner in the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) from 1999-2003, in charge of developing or revising the state’s K-12 standards, teacher licensure tests, and teacher and administrator licensure regulations. I served on the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) from 2006-2010, on the National Mathematics Advisory Panel from 2006-2008, and on the Common Core Validation Committee from 2009-2010. I was one of the five members of the Validation Committee who did not sign off on the standards as being rigorous, internationally competitive, or research-based.

I was also editor of the premier research journal, Research in the Teaching of English, published by the National Council of Teachers of English, from 1991 to 1997. I have published extensively in professional journals and written several books. In recent years, I have testified before many state legislative committees and boards on the flaws in Common Core’s standards.

II. Lack of Relevant Qualifications in Common Core’s Standards Writers

The absence of relevant professional credentials in the two standards-writing teams helps to explain the flaws in Common Core’s standards. The two “lead” writers for the ELA standards, David Coleman and Susan Pimentel, have never taught reading or English in K-12 or at the college level. Neither has a doctorate in English or reading. Neither has ever published serious work on K-12 curriculum and instruction. Neither has a reputation for literary scholarship or research in education. At the time they were appointed, they were virtually unknown to English and reading educators and the public at large. They now earn large fees for Student Achievement Partners (their business) consulting to school systems trying to implement their ELA standards.

The three lead standards writers in mathematics were as unknown to K-12 educators as were the lead ELA standards writers. None of the three mathematics standards writers (Phil Daro, William McCallum, and Jason Zimba) had ever developed K-12 mathematics standards that had been used—or used effectively.  The only member of this three-person standards-writing team with K-12 teaching experience had majored in English as an undergraduate (although Phil Daro had taught mathematics at the middle school level for two years).

Who recommended these people as standards writers and why, we still do not know.  No one in the media commented on their lack of credentials for the task they had been assigned.  Indeed, no one in the media showed the slightest interest in their qualifications for standards writing. 

III. Lack of Academic Qualifications in Most Members of the Validation Committee

The federal government did not fund an independent group of experts to evaluate the rigor of the standards, even though it expected the states to adopt them. Instead, the private organizations in charge of the project created their own Validation Committee (VC) in 2009. The VC contained almost no academic experts in any area; most were education professors or associated with testing companies, from here and abroad. There was only one mathematician on the VC—R. James Milgram—although there were many people with graduate degrees in mathematics education or with appointments in an education school, and/or who worked chiefly in teacher education. I was the only nationally recognized expert on English language arts standards by virtue of my work in Massachusetts and for Achieve, Inc.’s American Diploma Project.

Professor Milgram and I did not sign off on the standards because they were not internationally competitive, rigorous, or research-based.  Despite our repeated requests, we did not get the names of high-achieving countries whose standards could be compared with Common Core’s standards. (We received no “cross-walks.”) Nor did the standards writers themselves offer any research evidence or rationale to defend their omission of the high school mathematics standards needed for STEM careers, their emphasis on writing not reading, their experimental approach to teaching Euclidean geometry, their deferral of the completion of Algebra I to grade 9 or 10, or their claim that informational reading instruction in the English class leads to college readiness. They also did not offer evidence that Common Core’s standards meet entrance requirements for most colleges and universities in this country or elsewhere.

IV.  Flaws in the 2011 Massachusetts ELA Standards (the document lists David Coleman, Susan Pimentel, James Patterson, and Susan Wheltle as the four lead writers)

 A. Most Coleman et al standards are content-free skills, not “content” standards. They do not address specific literary knowledge, specific literary history, or specific reading levels, i.e., they omit significant literary/historical content. E.g., there is no standard on the history of the English language, on British authors or texts, or on authors or texts from the ancient or classical world.

Examples of Coleman et al literature standards in grades 11/12:

  1. Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
  1. Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.

Examples of authentic ELA literature standards

*In California’s pre-2010 standards for 11/12:

3.7  Analyze recognized works of world literature from a variety of authors:

a.  Contrast the major literary forms, techniques, and characteristics of the major

literary periods (e.g., Homeric Greece, medieval, romantic, neoclassic, modern).

b.  Relate literary works and authors to the major themes and issues of their eras.

*In Massaschusetts’ pre-2010 standards for grades 9/10:

16.11:  Analyze the characters, structure, and themes of classical Greek drama and

epic poetry.

 

B. The 2011 Coleman et al standards expect English teachers to spend at least half of their reading instructional time at every grade level on informational texts. They contain 10 reading standards for informational texts and 9 for literary texts at every grade level, reducing literary study in the English class to about 50%. Pre-2011 Massachusetts English classes spent about 20% of reading instructional time on nonfiction (which included informational material). No research studies support increasing the study of nonfiction in English classes to improve college readiness.

C. The 2011 Coleman et al standards reduce opportunities for students to develop analytical thinking. Analytical thinking is developed when teachers teach students how to read between the lines of complex works. As noted in a 2006 ACT report titled Reading Between the Lines: “complexity is laden with literary features.”  According to ACT, it involves “literary devices,” “tone,” “ambiguity,” “elaborate” structure, “intricate language,” and unclear intentions. Thus, reducing complex literary study in the English class in order to increase informational reading, in effect, retards college readiness.

D. The 2011 Coleman et al standards discourage “critical” thinking. Critical thinking is based on independent thinking. Independent thinking comes from a range of observations, experiences, and undirected reading. The Coleman et al document contains no standards for writing a research paper like those spelled out in the pre-2011 Massachusetts ELA standards.

 

V. Why the MBAE and Fordham Studies Cannot Tell Us Much

As noted by the Commissioner of Education in his announcement of the five public hearings on MCAS vs. PARCC, the Board would review studies conducted by “outside organizations.”

The first outside study, commissioned by the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE), was released in February 2015.  It recommended abandoning MCAS, yet it did not indicate that current MCAS tests are based on the Coleman et al standards, while the PARCC tests are based on Common Core’s. Do the contents of the test items differ?  We don’t know. Nor do we know what test items were examined in this study.  Nor does the study give us a single clue to the contents of the test items in either set of tests at any grade level.

A second outside study is being undertaken by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. The MBAE study had earlier indicated that “the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the Human Resources Research Organization will conduct a full-scale evaluation of how well aligned PARCC, MCAS, and other national assessments are to the Common Core State Standards and the extent to which they meet the criteria for high-quality assessments established by the Council of Chief State School Officers.” It is not clear why CCSSO is qualified to establish criteria for high-quality assessments. All we know at present is that the Fordham Institute decided to use a portion of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funds it regularly receives to compare MCAS and PARCC test items and to let BESE know what it would recommend as an organization dedicated to the Common Core project. Its report will be issued in time for BESE’s official vote to adopt PARCC in fall, 2015.

Nevertheless, we face the same problems in learning anything from the Fordham report that we face with the MBAE report. The test items for both the 2015 MCAS ELA tests and the 2015 PARCC ELA tests are test-secure and can’t be discussed in a public report. I have twice asked directors of both assessments for permission to examine under secure conditions all their ELA test items for 2015 but have not been given permission to do so. I have also asked DESE for a copy of all proposals or requests to DESE for permission to examine non-released MCAS test items, but DESE has not sent me a copy of this public information.

The public CAN examine “sample” and “practice” test items that PARCC has made available online (which I have done).  The public CAN examine all released test items for all MCAS tests from 1998 to 2007 (which I have done—see Appendix A for URLs to these test items). And parents and teachers CAN testify about what students say about the test items they have responded to on their computers or in their test booklets. But researchers cannot present either an evaluation of the grade appropriateness of PARCC test items or a comparison of the contents of MCAS and PARCC test items, two of the sub-topics that testifiers were asked to address at the Bridgewater hearing, because they are not allowed to say anything about the actual contents of the test items if indeed they examined them.

Until all the test items used by PARCC and MCAS in ELA in 2015 are available to BESE and all parents, legislators, and other citizens for inspection under secure conditions, BESE has no legitimate information on which to base an official decision. In fact, the entire process leading to a decision on which set of tests to use appears to be a sham, beginning with the fact that the Commissioner of Education chairs the Governing Board of PARCC, yet is to make the final recommendation to BESE, and ending with the fact that all local superintendents were told in 2014 that the decision had already been made (according to a letter from Superintendent William Lupini to the Brookline School Committee in June 2014, in Appendix B). The public, including the media, have been abused by a fake process.  Only a post hoc, pro forma vote for PARCC remains to be taken.

Yet there are significant differences between PARCC and MCAS for ELA tests that can be brought to public attention.  These differences have their source in the criteria established by English teachers in Massachusetts in 1997, as explained above, and in other sources.

VI. Problems with PARCC in 2014-15, based on the examples/test items given

* The overall reading level of PARCC sample test items in most grades seems to be lower than the overall reading level of test items in MCAS ELA tests based on the pre-Coleman et al standards—sometimes by more than one reading grade level. E.g., an excerpt from The Red Badge of Courage is an example in the 2015 grades 10 and 11 PARCC. But an excerpt from this novel was assessed in a pre-2011 grade 8 MCAS.  E.g., an excerpt from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is an example in the 2015 grade 11 PARCC but appears in a 2010 grade 10 MCAS.

* PARCC doesn’t tell us who determines the cut (pass/fail) score, where it will be, and who changes it, and when. Cut scores on MCAS tests are set by Massachusetts citizens.

* PARCC test specifications do not indicate from what authors or kinds of text the literary passages are to be drawn, and how they are to be balanced. English teachers in Massachusetts have had higher expectations for MCAS than do test-developers at PARCC, it seems.

* PARCC 2015 grade 11 test samples are not aligned with Common Core’s standards; there are no passages from founding political documents.

* PARCC offers too many tests at each grade and across grades.

* PARCC requires extensive keyboarding skills and too much time for test preparation.

* PARCC plans to provide only a few released test items for teachers to use, it seems.

* The change to a grade 11 PARCC for fulfilling the requirement for a high school diploma hurts low-achieving students, who often need two years for remediation and retests before graduation.

* The PARCC tests are very long (see the chart in Superintendent Lupini’s June 2014 letter to the Brookline School Committee), even though they have been recently shortened.

* The writing prompts in PARCC in 2015 do not elicit “deeper thinking” because students are not given a provocative question about a reading assignment and encouraged to make and justify their own interpretation of an author’s ideas based on a range of sources, some self-chosen. They are almost always given the sources to use, beginning in grade 3: e.g., “Write an essay comparing and contrasting the key details presented in the two articles about how endangered animals can be helped. Use specific details and examples from both articles to support your ideas.”

* The two-part multiple-choice format in PARCC (and in SBAC) often requires students to engage in a textual scavenger hunt for the specific words, phrases, or sentences that led to their own thinking when answering the previous question. This two-part multiple-choice format is especially taxing and problematic in the early grades. E.g., in grade 3: “Part B: Which sentence from the story supports the answer to Part A?” “Which detail supports the answer to Part A?” “Which detail from X shows another example of the answer to Part A?” “Which detail from paragraph 14 best supports the answer to Part A?” “What phrase from paragraph 14 helps the reader to understand the meaning of thriving?” “Which section in X introduces how the scientists made wolves feel comfortable in the park?”  In sum, the questions are poorly worded, confusing, tedious, unfriendly to children, and cumbersome. 

 

VII. Criteria for MCAS ELA Selections Developed in 1997 by the State’s English Teachers

  1. About 60% of the selections should be literary.
  1. At least half of the literary selections should come from authors in a list of suggested authors or works reflecting our common literary and cultural heritage
  1. About half of the literary selections could come from authors in a second list of suggested contemporary authors from the United States, as well as past and present authors from other countries and cultures.

These criteria were enforced in two ways for MCAS ELA tests: by the Guiding Principle on literary study in the introduction to the ELA standards and by the use of texts by authors in the two lists. The Guiding Principle itself (“An effective English language arts curriculum draws on literature from many genres, time periods, and cultures, featuring works that reflect our common literary heritage.”) indicated that a “comprehensive literature curriculum contains works from both [lists].”  The two lists of recommended authors served as guides to choosing MCAS passages at all grades. MCAS ELA tests from 1998 on were dominated by literary selections because of these criteria, the Guiding Principle on literary study, and the two lists.

BESE voted to add the Guiding Principles and the two lists in the 2001 Massachusetts ELA curriculum framework to the Common Core standards adopted in 2011. But DESE altered the wording of the Guiding Principle on literary study to read An effective English language arts and literacy curriculum draws on literature in order to develop students’ understanding of their literary heritage” so that it no longer expected the school curriculum or literary passages on MCAS to feature works reflecting “our common literary heritage.”

 VIII. Recommendations for Massachusetts:

  1. Fewer grades tested (just 4, 8, and 10), as in the 1993 MERA and 1994 authorization of ESEA
  2. Paper and pencil tests; no computer-based tests
  3. All or most test items released every year, as MERA requires
  4. Retention of grade 10 competency determination for a high school diploma, required in MERA, for the benefit of low-achieving students
  5. Tests requiring less time for preparing for and teaching to the tests
  6. Test passages and questions chosen and reviewed by Massachusetts English teachers
  7. A Massachusetts-determined cut score

Appendix A.  URLs for locating all MCAS ELA test items from 1998 to 2007, plus some URLs for later items

http://www.edbenchmarks.org/schoolimprovement/stuach.htm  On MEAP 1992-1999

https://archive.org/details/massachusettscompr00mass (1998)

https://archive.org/details/masscomprehensiv00mass (1999)

https://www.brocktonpublicschools.com/uploaded/TeachingLearning/MathResourcesK-8/MCAs-Questions/MCAS-2000.pdf

https://www.brocktonpublicschools.com/uploaded/TeachingLearning/MathResourcesK-8/MCAs-Questions/MCAS_2001.pdf

https://www.brocktonpublicschools.com/uploaded/TeachingLearning/MathResourcesK-8/MCAs-Questions/MCAS-2002.pdf

https://www.brocktonpublicschools.com/uploaded/TeachingLearning/MathResourcesK-8/MCAs-Questions/MCAS-2003.pdf

https://www.brocktonpublicschools.com/uploaded/TeachingLearning/MathResourcesK-8/MCAs-Questions/MCAS-2004.pdf   (Grade 10 ELA includes an excerpt from Tartuffe)

https://www.brocktonpublicschools.com/uploaded/TeachingLearning/MathResourcesK-8/MCAs-Questions/MCAS-2005.pdf (grade 10 ELA includes excerpts from Macbeth and Pride and Prejudice; and Theodore Roethke poem)

https://www.brocktonpublicschools.com/uploaded/TeachingLearning/MathResourcesK-8/MCAs-Questions/MCAS-2006.pdf

https://www.brocktonpublicschools.com/uploaded/DistrictDepartments/Assessment/mcas_2007.pdf

misterambrose.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/2009_Spring_MCAS.1244029.pdf (grade 10 ELA includes excerpt from Oliver Twist)

http://www.doe.mass.edu/mcas/2010/release/g10ela.pdf (grade 10 ELA includes excerpts from Heart of Darkness and Love in a Time of Cholera; Shakespeare’s Sonnet #73)

http://www.doe.mass.edu/mcas/testitems.html?yr=14  (Selected items from 2010 to 2014 available here.)

 

 

Appendix B:  Letter from Superintendent William Lupini to the Brookline School Committee in June 2014

 

THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS OF BROOKLINE

333 WASHINGTON STREET BROOKLINE, MASSACHUSETTS 02445

TEL: 617-730-2401

FAX: 617-730-2601

Office of the Superintendent of Schools

William H. Lupini, Ed.D.

June 3, 2014

 

To: Members of the Brookline School Committee

From: William H. Lupini, Ed. D. Superintendent of Schools

Re: State Assessment for 2015

 

 

On May 22, 2014, I recommended that the Public Schools of Brookline administer the PARCC Assessment for grades 3-9 and 11 for the 2014-2015 school year. This recommendation was based on the following considerations:

• Our experience with the recent PARCC field test allowed our team to gain a deep understanding of all that is required to administer this assessment to support students’ success. Our learning was detailed in my presentation to the School Committee at our last meeting.

• The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) will “hold harmless” the accountability status of Districts choosing to administer PARCC in 2015. Specifically, a school’s level will either stay the same or improve but cannot decline due to PARCC test results.

• MCAS will be phased out in favor of either PARCC or another new “next generation” assessment after the 2015 test administration.

• Administering PARCC in 2015 will allow all students tested the opportunity to get comfortable with the new expectations and testing environment, and will give us the opportunity to fine-tune its administration, which may reduce the risk of disruption in future years.

• The high school did not participate in the 2014 pilot. Administering PARCC in grades 9 and 11 in 2015 offers BHS a year to pilot the new assessment. Also, a score of 4 or 5 on the PARCC Assessment would allow an 11th grader to skip remedial courses at Massachusetts state colleges. MCAS will still be administered to all 10th grade students through the class of 2018 for competency determinations.

• In addition to being “held harmless,” DESE has mitigated other risks for districts that choose to administer PARCC in 2015, including:

-Pencil and paper tests will be an option for a number of years in order to allow districts to adequately prepare their technology to meet the needs of the online test; and,

-Student Growth Percentiles (SGP) will be calculated continuously; therefore, there will be no interruption in utilizing SGP in the educator evaluation system.

The purpose of this Memorandum is to provide you with additional information about PARCC testing, our revised recommendation for your consideration during the June 5th Public Hearing and your June 19th vote, and the reasoning for these revisions to our thinking. Additional Information One of the main areas of discussion during our May 22nd presentation involved the number of PARCC testing sessions at each grade level.

Following is a chart detailing the grade-by-grade and subject area testing sessions for both PARCC and MCAS (grades 3-8):

Grade Level                PARCC & Science                   MCAS                 Difference

 

3rd                                         9                                         5                               +4

(5 ELA; 4 Math)             (3 ELA; 2 Math)

4th                                          9                                        7                                 +2

(5 ELA; 4 Math)              (5 ELA; 2 Math)

5th                                         11                                        7                                 +4

(5 ELA; 4 Math)              (3 ELA; 2 Math)

(2 MCAS Science)           (2 MCAS Science)

 

6th                                          9                                           5                                 +4

(5 ELA; 4 Math)            (3 ELA; 2 Math)

7th                                           9                                         7                                   +2

(5 ELA; 4 Math)             (5 ELA; 2 Math)

8th                                          11                                        7                                   +4

(5 ELA; 4 Math)             (3 ELA; 2 Math)

(2 MCAS Science)          (2 MCAS Science)

 

These differences are somewhat governed by the addition of end-of- year (EOY) testing in PARCC, along with the inclusion of a writing composition component for grades beyond the fourth and seventh grade currently tested in MCAS.

The amount of time to be spent in testing is a much more complicated analysis. Students are permitted 50% additional time beyond what is recommended in PARCC, while MCAS is an untimed assessment. Below is a comparison of the “expected” times for both grade 3-8 scenarios described above:

Grade Level                            PARCC & Science                           MCAS                                     Difference

3rd                                      490 minutes (8.2 hours)      270 minutes (4.5 hours)             +220 minutes (+3.7 hours)

4th                                       530 minutes (8.8 hours)      360 minutes (6.0 hours)            +210 minutes (+3.5 hours)

5th                                       620 minutes (10.3 hours)    360 minutes (6.0 hours)            +260 minutes (+4.3 hours)

6th                                       570 minutes (9.5 hours)       270 minutes (4.5 hours)            +300 minutes (+5.0 hours)

7th                                       570 minutes (9.5 hours)        370 minutes (6.2 hours)            +300 minutes (+5.0 hours)

8th                                       660 minutes (11.0 hours)      370 minutes (6.2 hours)           +290 minutes (+4.8 hours)

These numbers are somewhat misleading in that the PARCC timing is probably much closer to actual for most students, given the “timed” nature of the assessment. Furthermore, given that factor, it would be possible to schedule multiple testing sessions in one day with PARCC, while this is not possible in our current MCAS assessment configuration.

The high school analysis is even more difficult, given the following factors:

• As noted earlier, current MCAS assessment occurs only in 9th grade with a Science test, 10th grade with the English Language Arts and Mathematics exams, and again beyond 10th grade for those students who did not initially meet the competency determination standards.

• The PARCC assessment system is designed to provide 11th grade students who score of 4 or 5 on the PARCC Assessment to skip remedial courses at Massachusetts state colleges.

• MCAS will still be administered to all 10th grade students through the class of 2018 for competency determinations.

• PARCC high school math assessments are based on courses aligned to the Common Core State Standards, not grade levels.

Assessments are available for Algebra I, Geometry, Mathematics I, Mathematics II, Algebra II and Mathematics III.

Given these factors, it is more difficult to provide a comparison of numbers of testing sessions and total time devoted to assessment for PARCC v. MCAS. However, it is very safe to conclude that students would experience a greater volume of testing under the PARCC plan than is currently the case.

Revised Recommendation

After considering input from the Headmaster and her administrative team, as well as issues raised by School Committee members at our May 22nd meeting, we are now recommending that the Public Schools of Brookline participate in the PARCC operational test for grades 3-8 only during the 2014- 2015 school year.

High School testing would be limited to those MCAS tests required for the competency determination in 9th and 10th grades.

Reasoning

We do not come to any of these recommendations lightly. This new assessment will consume more valuable teaching time than the current program. The timed nature of the assessment for students who do not have an IEP is not in the best interest of any of our students and represents a significant change in beliefs for the Commonwealth. The PARCC assessment is still in development and, as such, will continue to represent a learning opportunity for all of us, even while students are receiving scores for their performance on the exams. Finally, we are not at present prepared to move to an on-line testing environment as a school system, meaning that some of our students will participate in a paper and pencil assessment and, therefore, we will have students being tested on somewhat different competencies and skills across our schools.

However, much of our rationale for this recommendation is, in our view, compelling and remains the same as discussed in May. We cannot recommend staying with MCAS for another year if this assessment is to be phased out in favor of either PARCC or another new “next generation” assessment. We believe that students should be given the opportunity to experience “next generation” expectations and testing environments, and that we need the chance to work with the administration of these assessments. Finally, we need to take advantage of having school accountability status held “harmless” while we work to support student, teacher and school success within this new testing situation.

While this same logic exists with respect to high school testing, we simply do not believe that it outweighs the issues for our students. As was discussed on May 22nd, eleventh grade students would be taking a PARCC assessment after most of them had already met the competency determination in their sophomore year, without the benefit of knowing up front that this was to be the case. Ninth grade students would be participating in a “next generation” pilot program, only to revert to MCAS as a competency determination exam. Therefore, we do not believe that the benefits of PARCC testing outweigh these concerns for our high school students in 2014-2015.

I am looking forward to continuing our discussion of this recommendation with you at our meeting on Thursday, June 5, 2014.

Video: Alaska Legislators Hear Experts Testify Against Common Core   1 comment


From Alaska with love.

Here’s a video that I hadn’t seen before, made last spring as Alaska legislators listened to expert testimony about Common Core.  It’s long, but truly worth the time.  My plan was to listen while I folded laundry but I kept throwing down the laundry to run over and replay a section, cheering for the vital testimonies being presented.

One of the jumping-and-cheering parts was Professor Anthony Esolen –on the ham-handed writing of the Common Core English standards– which starts at minute 19:00 and goes to about 27:00.

He vividly expressed how during this era of trash-literature, when it is more important than ever to bring students to great books, the Common Core fails us; it doesn’t even introduce students to their great literary heritage except in little fragments and shards; it fails to coherently teach grammar; it tragically kills any chance at kindling a deep love of reading, suffocating under information-text mandates the needed wide exposure to imaginative and classic literature.

It’s understated to say that the meeting grew a bit tense.  Those gathered did not seem to agree even on whether or not Alaska’s standards are the same as Common Core standards.  Key attendees appeared unmoved by the logical, passionate expressions given by testifiers, their minds likely having been made up prior to the testimonies.

At this link, watch the  discussion, introduced by Representative Lora Reinbold.  Testifiers include: Terrence Moore of Hillsdale College; Anthony Eselon of Providence College; Sandra Stotsky (ret.) University of Arkansas; Ze’ev Wurman, former Department of Education Official (Bush Admin.), NEA Ron Fuhrer President; Marty Van Diest, parent; Troy Carlock and Joe Alward, teachers; and Mike Hanley, Commissioner of Education.

Enjoy.

http://www.360north.org/gavel-archives/?event_id=2147483647_2014031349

Duncan Distances Himself from San Diego Protesters   2 comments

Adding to the Breitbart report that many have already have seen is this report by Dr. Sandra Stotsky, who was present during this month’s Common Core promotional visit by Secretary of Education to California.  The U.S. Secretary of Education ignored parent protesters but spoke about his programs for implementing Common Core, including his aim to lengthen the school day and to extend each school year to year-round school.  Dr. Stotsky stands in the middle of San Diego protesters in this photo.

Sandra cropped

USDE Not Interested in Parents’ Perspective on Common Core

By Sandra Stotsky

 

While Professors R. James Milgram and Sandra Stotsky were on a 13-city speaking tour throughout California (joined by Ze’ev Wurman in Southern California) in November, a protest rally against Common Core by parents in San Diego took place.  What exactly were they protesting?  A speech by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, invited by the Council for Chief State School Officers for prime time at its 2014 Annual Policy Forum at the U.S. Grant Hotel.  The advanced description of his speech suggested that his talk was to center on ways to promote implementation of Common Core, such as by lengthening the school day and extending the school year to include summer as well as fall, winter, and spring. A few protesters wondered if parents would be given visiting rights.

 

While marching back and forth in front of the main door to the hotel, they asked the security guards to let Duncan, CCSSO officers, and the state superintendents in the audience know they were outside. No invitation to come in and listen to Duncan’s speech was forthcoming. The protesting parents outside the hotel were completely ignored by the CCSSO, Duncan, and the state superintendents listening to him, just as parents across the country have been ignored by them for five years. Not one public meeting with upset parents in any state by a US Department of Education official, a state board of education, a state commissioner or superintendent of education, a governor, a local board of education, or a local superintendent.

 

This is apparently the official federal policy toward the parents of the children in our public schools on whom the states have imposed the deeply flawed educational policies associated with Common Core: Keep them at a distance.

 —————————————————–

Thank you, Dr. Stotsky.

This is a pattern. Recently, a federal agent from the Department of Education visited Salt Lake City.  Although Utahns Against Common Core organized a protest during this event  to call attention to the federal visit and to support Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch’s letter of rebuke of the Department of Education and its false assumption of authority, the Salt Lake City protest was, like the San Diego protest, completely ignored by the visiting federal agent.   (“Keep them at a distance.”)

Dr. Sandra Stotsky: Why Do CC Supporters Try to Discredit CC Math Critics?   4 comments

Why Do Common Core’s Supporters Try to Discredit Critics of Common Core’s Mathematics Standards?

by Dr. Sandra Stotsky

 

Professor R. James Milgram, for over 40 years a full professor of mathematics at Stanford University, and I did a 13-city speaking tour on Common Core throughout California in November. At all of the meetings, Professor Milgram provided a two-page hand-out titled Missing or Delayed in Common Core’s Mathematics Standards—a short version of a 13-page critique he distributed at the time he refused to sign off on Common Core’s standards.  Not one of the thousands of parents, school board members, and legislators at these meetings challenged him about anything on this hand-out. (The Modesto Bee estimated about 500 at the meeting in Modesto alone.)

 

Yet, when speaking without Professor Milgram after distributing (with his permission) his two-page list of missing or delayed mathematics standards in Common Core, along with my own list of flaws in Common Core’s English language arts standards, I have been accused by non-mathematicians of relying on an incompetent mathematician. Why are Common Core’s supporters so desperate to discredit those with orders of magnitude more mathematical knowledge than they have at any educational level?  And to do so in such a cowardly fashion.

 

For example, I was warned by a very angry, self-identified local school board member and former K-12 mathematics teacher at a St. Louis, Missouri meeting in October that Professor Milgram is not “truthful.”  I was told in a November e-mail sent to me by a mathematics educator at a Missouri university not to “trust Milgram’s opinions.”  I was also told by an employee of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education at a Marshfield, Massachusetts meeting in October that, in contrast to Professor Milgram’s comments, a mathematics professor at Boston College thought highly of Common Core’s standards, and that for every analysis I did, there was another one that found that Common Core’s standards strengthened, not weakened, the high school curriculum.”  She also accused me of saying that “the old Massachusetts standards were so good that they couldn’t be improved.”  In response to a follow-up e-mail query from the organizer of the meeting asking for written evidence of her claims, she replied: “Professor Friedberg has not done a paper on the topic but he and other Massachusetts professors of mathematics strongly endorse Common Core’s standards and believe our previous standards were not sufficiently rigorous, didn’t stress mastery or understanding, included too many topics, and were not sufficiently focused. I’m sure Sandra Stotsky is already familiar with Bill Schmidt’s peer-reviewed study that found the standards comparable to the highest achieving nations.”

 

Yes, indeed, I am aware of William Schmidt’s study.  I am also aware of its fatal methodological deficiencies. As Ze’ev Wurman noted in his review of Schmidt’s study:

 

“Advocates of Common Core’s mathematics standards claim they are rigorous, reflect college-readiness, and are comparable with those of high achieving countries. The two members of the Common Core Validation Committee with college-level mathematics content knowledge [R. James Milgram and Dylan William] refused to sign off on them, finding them significantly lower than those of high-achieving countries….

Schmidt and Houang’s 2012 study—the only study that claimed the standards met international expectations—lacks reliable coding of the standards, and uses a variety of visual and statistical strategies to create the illusion that the profile of topics in Common Core’s mathematics standards is, indeed, comparable to the curriculum profile of six high-achieving countries. In fact, their own data suggest that Common Core’s mathematics standards are not at all like those of international high achievers, and that—at least from a statistical point of view—they do not carry any promise of improving American educational achievement.”

 

Wurman went on to conclude:

 

“Not only do Common Core’s standards remain unvalidated, but there are now many doubts that they could ever be validated as research-based, rigorous, and internationally competitive. Indeed, there is growing concern that they are far below the level of standards in high-achieving countries. Yet, these standards were officially adopted by over 46 states, national tests are being piloted based on them, textbooks and other curriculum materials have been aligned down to them, and all our seemingly independent indices of academic achievement or potential for college-level work have been or are in the process of being aligned down to them. What should be done?”

 

It is easy to understand why Common Core’s proponents would be unhappy with criticisms of Common Core’s mathematics standards. Especially when other mathematicians publicly corroborate the thrust of Professor Milgram’s criticisms (for example, the op-ed in The Wall Street Journal by Marina Ratner at the University of California/Berkeley).

 

But they should be ashamed of making spurious charges to people who do not understand high school mathematics any better than they do. And they should learn to speak directly to mathematicians themselves to try to understand the criticisms.


—————————————————————————

Notes:

1)  http://www.modbee.com/news/local/education/article3594327.html

2)  Common Core Informational Forum, St. Louis, Missouri, October 23, 2014.   Watch these six 15-minute videos in this order.

 

  1. http://youtu.be/z_Ps_25U1VI
  2.  http://youtu.be/JRahJRom4r8
  3. http://youtu.be/9FffrrRsryY
  4.  http://youtu.be/-t8IIfr_h8U
  5.  http://youtu.be/4Wb5KclkKa0
  6.  http://youtu.be/hpvY0ymINjk

4)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZvUa4mGGQA. The Q and A is not available on this video of the Marshfield meeting.

5)  Email communication from Noel Ashekian, November 4, 2014.

6)  Ze’ev Wurman, Common Core’s Validation: A Weak Foundation for a Crooked House, Pioneer Institute White Paper #112, April 2014.

http://pioneerinstitute.org/download/common-cores-validation-a-weak-foundation-for-a-crooked-house/?utm_source=Common+Core+Validation+Apr+23+2014&utm_campaign=Common+Core+Val+April+23+2014&utm_medium=email

7)  Marina Ratner.  Making Math Education Even Worse.  Wall Street Journal, August 5, 2014.  http://online.wsj.com/articles/marina-ratner-making-math-education-even-worse-1407283282

————————————————————————————————————————————

Thank you, Dr. Stotsky!

Dr. Sandra Stotsky (English Professor) and Dr. James Milgram (Math Professor) served on the official Common Core Validation Committee and after reviewing the standards, each refused to sign off that the Common Core was academically legitimate.

Watch these video presentations where Dr. Stotsky and Dr. Milgram explain at forums across the nation why these standards do not live up to their college-and-career-ready billing.

 

Video: NJ Symposium to Stop Common Core: Drs. Stotsky, Tienken, Pesta, Williams, Borelli and Borelli   4 comments

In September, Concerned Citizens of Southern New Jersey  held a symposium entitled “No More Common Core,” featuring:

  • Dr. Sandra Stotsky, emeritus professor and member of the original Common Core validation committee
  • Dr. Christopher Tienken, professor at Seton Hall University
  • Dr. Duke Pesta of Freedom Project Education
  • Dr. Tom Borelli, a molecular biologist
  • Deneen Borelli of FreedomWorks
  • Dr. Vern Williams of MathReasoning

The symposium was filmed and is posted here in three segments.

One of the event organizers, Janice Lenox, wrote an op-ed in the Cape May County Herald that succinctly explains why this symposium was so needed.

After a tremendous amount of grassroots labor, the Assembly bill against Common Core was read and voted on.  Lenox wrote:

“We were there for the vote and absolutely ecstatic when the vote 72-2 in our favor was called. Now, on to the Senate…  the Senate president passed over the bill without posting for a vote. We were told that the governor had a meeting with the Senate president and the Teachers Union president and cut a deal. “Regulation, not Legislation” –that’s what the governor wanted. He issued an executive order… He was to assemble a Study Commission to examine the PARCC testing and alleviate the teachers’ assessments for a year… and look at the Common Core…  That was July 19 of this year… As of this date, Nov. 1, no Commission of any kind has been named and no information has been forthcoming…  We urge Senator Steven Sweeney to do the people’s business and post Senate bill S2154 to the floor for a vote and let the peoples’ voices be heard….  Let teachers teach and parents parent.”

If the good people of New Jersey will simply watch, learn, and share these vital messages from the symposium speakers, and then firmly let Senator Sweeney and their other elected representatives exactly how important this is, maybe this mountain will move move.

Go, New Jersey!

 

Symposium Part One:

 

Symposium Part Two:

 

Symposium Part Three:

With Common Core States Face Critical Problem: Which Tests?   1 comment

By Sandra Stotsky

 

The burning education issue facing most states at the moment is which tests should they give their K-12 students next year to satisfy the conditions of their waivers from the United States Department of Education (USED) or the commitments they made in their Race to the Top (RttT) applications, whether or not they received an RttT grant or other funds from the USED or the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

The two testing consortia funded by the USED – Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) – for the purpose of developing common tests based on Common Core’s standards have experienced dwindling state commitments. SBAC is down to less than 20, and PARCC is down to possibly 9. Both consortia have been piloting test items across the states this past academic year to acquire the pool of items needed for computer-adaptive testing (by SBAC) and for gauging difficulty levels at all the grade levels participating in the assessments (K-11).

A new twist is the question of whether state boards, commissioners, and/or departments of education committed their states (i.e., the taxpayers) to particular testing companies and future technology costs without going through statute-mandated bidding procedures and cost-benefit analyses. New Mexico and Louisiana seem to be tied up in constitutional issues on contractual matters, while Arizona is trying to ensure it follows its own statutory bidding procedures.

What hasn’t been getting much attention from mainstream media, possibly because most reporters have no children in Common Core-based classrooms and don’t talk to parents of school-age children on a regular basis, are the problems students and teachers are encountering with the tests themselves and the similarities in the problems reported for PARCC and SBAC pilot tests.

The information on PARCC’s pilot tests comes from school administrators in the Bridgewater-Raynham Regional School District in Massachusetts, as reported on June 18 in Wickedlocal.com. The article was based chiefly on what took place at a school board meeting in June, during which the School Committee voted unanimously to stay with MCAS, the state test, for the next academic year. At the meeting, the school administrators explained why they wanted to stay with MCAS, based on the experiences teachers and students had with the PARCC pilot tests the school district gave in the spring of 2014. 

“It’s like telling our teachers, ‘We’ll teach you how to drive.’ But then the test says you won’t be driving cars. You’ll be driving boats,” said Bridgewater-Raynham school Superintendent Jacqueline Forbes of the PARCC exam. “It’s not aligning with our curriculum or instruction.”

angryteacher

Based on pilot testing, school officials said PARCC did not match up with Bridgewater-Raynham’s teaching methods and also contained numerous technological flaws.

“The one word I’d use to sum up our experience is ‘frustration,’” said Brian Lynch, an elementary school principal. “First, there were a lot of problems administering the test, which is taken on a computer – and the snags weren’t on the district’s end.”

“Second, the test requires students to be familiar with software programs the district does not teach,” Lynch continued. “The district uses a lot of technology, but students still take basic math tests on topics such as number lines and graphing using a paper and pencil.”

“Are we testing math or are we testing a child’s ability to drag and type?” asked Forbes. “We don’t teach typing in third grade. It’s not developmentally appropriate.”

According to high school Principal Angela Watson, the district piloted the PARCC Algebra I test to randomly selected ninth graders.

“Unfortunately, what we found is our written, taught and assessed curriculum doesn’t match up exactly with the PARCC exam. … It puts kids in unfamiliar territory,” Watsonsaid. “It would take time and resources to make the switch to a curriculum that matches up with PARCC.”  

Forbes, however, said that effort might turn out to be misdirected because other districts have articulated similar concerns about the PARCC test.

Regarding SBAC’s pilot tests, a recent letter by Fairgrounds Middle School Principal John Nelson to Nashua Superintendent Mark Conrad provided a disturbing picture, wrote theNashua Telegraph in late January.

New Hampshire teachers had been asked by their local superintendent of schools to take an early version of SBAC in December 2013. According to the article, the teachers said the “new computerized test is confusing, doesn’t work well, and leads to frustration.”

In his letter to members of the Nashua Board of Education, Nelson said, “Teachers shared frustrations they had when they were taking the test and disappointment in test format and the difficulties they had trying to use their computer to take this test.”

His teachers agreed the test should not be used on Nashua students.

Nelson wrote:

The FMS staff collectively believe that the Smarter Balance Test is inappropriate for our students at this time and that the results from this test will not measure the academic achievement of our students; but will be a test of computer skills and students’ abilities to endure through a cumbersome task.

Despite the teachers’ plea and support from Nashua’s teacher union, Conrad, the state board, and Department of Education refused to back down, leaving Nashua’s students with a test their own teachers think is meaningless.

As in Nashua and Bridgewater-Raynham, local reporters all over the country are likely reporting what is happening in their local schools as they pilot Common Core-based tests. But Congress, state legislators, governors, and other policymakers at the state and national levels are not getting an accurate picture of what is happening to the curriculum in our public schools or to the children in them. 

Sandra Stotsky, Ed.D. is Professor Emerita at the University of Arkansas.  This article is posted with her permission and was first published at Breitbart.com

Hear Dr. Stotsky and Dr. Milgram: “Why I Refused to Sign Off on Common Core Standards”   5 comments

Hear Dr. Sandra Stotsky and Dr. James Milgram explain to interviewer Ann Marie Banfield why they each refused to sign off on the academic legitimacy of the Common Core standards, when they served as official Common Core validation committee members. Intro is about five minutes; Dr. Stotsky begins to speak at about minute 5:00.

Lively Radio Debates: Colorado Grassroots Radio Hosts Dr. Terrence Moore, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Anthony Cody, Michael Brickman, Jane Robbins, Laura Boggs   2 comments

Terrence Moore jpg
DR. TERRENCE MOORE

This week “Grassroots Radio Colorado” hosted two lively, informative Common Core debates. The podcasts are available by clicking here.

Hour one features History Professor Terrence Moore of Hillsdale College (opposed to Common Core) versus former school board member Laura Boggs (pro Common Core).

Highlights from hour one:

At minute 10:45 Laura Moore gives a 7-minute pro-Common Core intro. She explains why she thinks that it is good to have national education standards, comparing educational standards to car wheels. She speaks about the “states coming together” as if they did so.

She says that she is opposed to the federal government having much say in education, which really confuses me. I don’t comprehend how she can sit on that fence, but she apparently believes that Colorado’s Common Core was created largely by Colorado teachers, rather than the CCSSO and NGA. This, even though the CCSSO/NGA declares, right on the copyright page, that it is the sole developer of the standards, and even though the CCSSO declares, on its official website, that it is partnered with the federal Department of Education.

Anyway.

At minute 17:50 Dr. Terrence Moore gives a 7-minute anti-Common Core intro.

He talks about the reduction of literary texts, and discusses the lexile framework of the Common Core creators that makes huge errors, such as placing Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” on a 3rd grade reading level; he discusses the Appendix B recommendations of Common Core that crowds out classics and religious writers and Ben Franklin, with the Common Core’s preference for modern authors and informational text.

Here’s a great moment: at minute 36:00 the question is asked: “Are Common Core standards actually field tested?”

Laura Boggs says that they are “absolutely tested.” (She does not say where or how or by whom they were supposedly tested.)

Dr. Terrence Moore answers the same question: he says that the Common Core standards were absolutely not field tested.

At minute 42:00 Dr. Terrence Moore explains why we should reject Common Core outright. He also mentions learning more about this in his book, “Storykillers.”

He asks when the last time was, that we heard Secretary Arne Duncan or a school board member quote Shakespeare. He makes the point that one of the biggest problems we have in education is that “the people who are in charge do not love education.”

Laura_Boggs-thumb-120x168
LAURA BOGGS (FORMER SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER)

Anthony Cody teacher
TEACHER ANTHONY CODY

Hour two features California teacher Anthony Cody (opposed to Common Core) versus Fordham Institute member Michael Brickman (pro Common Core).

Hour two also includes Common Core validation committee member Dr. Sandra Stotsky and The American Principles Project’s Jane Robbins.

stotsky
DR. SANDRA STOTSKY

STOTSKY: COMMON CORE MATH NOT PREPARING HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS FOR STEM   1 comment

stotsky

Dr. Sandra Stotsky’s opinion editorial with Maureen Downey in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is just plain important. It’s published in this week’s AJC:

SHOULD AMERICAN HIGH SCHOOLS PREPARE ANY STUDENTS FOR STEM? COMMON CORE DOESN’T THINK SO.

By Sandra Stotsky

When states adopted Common Core’s mathematics standards, they were told (among other things) that these standards would make all high school students “college- and career-ready” and strengthen the critical pipeline for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

However, with the exception of a few standards in trigonometry, the math standards end after Algebra II, as James Milgram, professor of mathematics emeritus at Stanford University, observed in “Lowering the Bar: How Common Core Math Fails to Prepare High School Students for STEM,” a report that we co-authored for the Pioneer Institute.

Who was responsible for telling the Georgia Board of Education when it adopted these standards in 2010 that Common Core includes no standards for precalculus or for getting to precalculus from a weak Algebra II? Who should be telling Georgia business executives and Georgia college presidents today that high school graduates taught only to Common Core’s mathematics standards won’t be able to pursue a four-year degree in STEM?

Superintendents, local school committees, and most parents, in fact, have been led to believe that Common Core’s mathematics standards are rigorous. They are not complicit in this clever act of educational sabotage. But those who wrote these standards are. They knew that only one out of every 50 prospective STEM majors who begin their undergraduate math coursework at the precalculus level or lower will earn bachelor’s degrees in a STEM area.

It’s not as if the lead mathematics standards writers themselves didn’t tell us how low Common Core’s high school mathematics standards were. At a March 2010 meeting* of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Jason Zimba, a lead writer, told the board that the standards are “not for STEM.” In January 2010, William McCallum, another lead writer, told a group of mathematicians: “The overall standards would not be too high, certainly not in comparison [to] other nations, including East Asia, where math education excels.”

Moreover, Professor Milgram and I were members of Common Core’s Validation Committee, which was charged with reviewing drafts of the standards. We both refused to sign off on the academic quality of the final version of Common Core’s standards and made our criticism public.

There are other consequences to having a college readiness test in mathematics with low expectations. The U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top program requires states to place students who have been admitted by their public colleges and universities into credit-bearing (non-remedial) mathematics (and English) courses if they have passed a Common Core–based “college readiness” test. All public colleges, engineering schools, and universities in Georgia will likely have to lower the level of their introductory math courses to avoid unacceptably high failure rates.

It is still astonishing that Georgia’s state Board of Education adopted Common Core’s standards without asking the engineering, science, and mathematics faculty at its own higher education institutions (and the mathematics teachers in its own high schools) to analyze Common Core’s definition of college readiness and make public their recommendations. After all, who could be better judges of what students need for a STEM major?

Georgia should revise or abandon its Common Core’s mathematics standards as soon as possible unless, of course, the governor and the state’s board of education aren’t interested in having American-born and educated engineers, doctors, or scientists.

If that is the case, then keep the Common Core status quo.

———————–

Professor Sandra Stotsky, who served on Common Core’s official Validation Committee from 2009-2010, wrote a report for Georgia state Sen. William Ligon comparing Common Core’s English standards with Georgia’s Performance Standards.

*The above-mentioned meeting (where Common Core creators admitted that Common Core does not prepare students for STEM careers, and that it is only meant for nonselective, two year colleges) was filmed and is viewable here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJZY4mh2rt8

Also, here is a link to view Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Dr. Christopher Tienken, and others speaking at a recent Carroll County, Maryland, pro-and-con Common Core Forum.

On December 8th, in Howard County, Dr. Stotsky and Dr. Tienken will be speaking at another forum, alongside many others including the Maryland Superintendent of Schools and the cofounder of United Opt Out. The press release gave the following time and address for anyone who is able to attend: 5:00 pm, Sunday, December 8th: Reservoir High School, 11550 Scaggsville Road in Fulton, Maryland.

Liar Liar Pants on Fire: Dr. Stotsky Exposes Marc Tucker   5 comments

pinocchio

Dr. Sandra Stotsky, one of the famous Common Core validation committee members who refused to sign off on the legitimacy of Common Core, is alarmed that N.H. legislators are being sold a false line by Mark Tucker about Common Core. She points out, among other things, that the Gates Foundation has “given millions to help Marc Tucker promote his own ideas on education in recent years” as it has given millions to promote Common Core nationwide. But there are more than financial incentives for Tucker, the CEO of the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE), a Center for American Progress (CAP) leader, and the infamous Dear Hillary letter author.

Tucker’s life’s work hangs on Common Core. He’s made it his mission to end local control, as a progressive socialist who openly fights Constitutional, representative America. The plot of his 1992 “Dear Hillary letter” falls apart without Common standards for control of data and control of education and workforce. He can’t let it fail.

Tucker’s infamous 1992 letter to Hillary Clinton showed Tucker’s (and Clinton’s) twisted agreement that a “new” system of government should micromanage every citizen’s life, cradle to grave, using schooling as the core for the centralized control. Creepy as can be.

Fast forward to May 2013 and still, you see Tucker’s creepy goals outlined in his report from the “Center for American Progress” in which Tucker stated that “the United States will have to largely abandon the beloved emblem of American education: local control.” He also dared write: “I propose to greatly strengthen the role of the state education agencies in education governance, at the expense of local control … [G]overnance roles of the local districts, as well as the federal government, would be significantly decreased. Independent citizen governing boards would be eliminated.”

tucker

Equally stunning is Tucker’s 2013 NCEE report called “What Does It Really Mean to Be College and Work Ready?” where he admitted that his goal for education reform is NOT to raise, but to lower standards.

His report reads:

“Mastery of Algebra II is widely thought to be a prerequisite for success in college and careers. Our research shows that that is not so… Based on our data, one cannot make the case that high school graduates must be proficient in Algebra II to be ready for college and careers… the policy of requiring a passing score on an Algebra II exam for high school graduation simply cannot be justified.”

(Why don’t our state school boards share these reports with us? Why do they lead us to believe that “college and career ready standards” mean better than we had before?)

The same NCEE report goes on to say that the traditional high school English class, with its emphasis on classic literature and personal, narrative writing, is useless. The report implies that Common Core will save students from the near-worthless classics with its emphasis on technical subjects and social studies via the dominance of informational text in the Common Core classroom:

“The Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts (CCSSE) address reading in history/social studies as well as science and technical subjects, and in so doing may increase the relevance of high school instruction.”

In labeling classic literature and personal writing irrelevant, the NCEE underscores the Common Core/NCEE mentality: that only job prep matters, only the collective economy, not the liberty and potential of an individual.

With that introduction to Tucker’s motivations for promoting Common Core, here are highlights from Dr. Stotsky’s article on Tucker’s recent fibs in support of the Common Core agenda. (Read the whole thing at Pioneer Institute’s website.)

stotsky

Dr. Stotsky makes many important points, including the following:

1 “In October, members of the New Hampshire legislature heard Marc Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy, tell them more fibs than Pinocchio ever dreamed up. How many legislators will prove to be gullible Geppettos is another matter.”

2 “…all six of the “math experts” who “validated” Common Core’s mathematics standards are in an education school and/or spend their time on teacher education… [Dr. James Milgram, who refused to sign off on the legitimacy of the Common Core math standards], who has a doctorate in mathematics, was clearly the only mathematician on the Validation Committee. Tucker doesn’t know a mathematician from a mathematics educator.”

3 “It is true that Professor William McCallum, a consultant to Achieve, Inc., a mathematics professor at Arizona State University, and a lead writer of Common Core’s mathematics standards, asked the heads of many national mathematics and science societies for endorsements, and he received them. However, there is no evidence that any of their members ever read Common Core’s high school mathematics standards.”

4 “Nor is there evidence that any of their members disagree with Milgram’s judgment that there are no precalculus standards in Common Core or with Professor Jason Zimba’s acknowledgment that Common Core does not prepare high school students for STEM. If members of these organizations do endorse high school mathematics standards that intentionally do not prepare high school students for STEM, they should speak up…”

5 “Mitchell Chester, current Commissioner of Education in Massachusetts, did not commission any leading education research organizations to compare the Massachusetts standards with Common Core’s …Achieve, Inc., Fordham, and the MBAE all received funding from the Gates Foundation… It is also well-known that a Race to the Top grant for $250,000,000 was promised to Massachusetts if it adopted Common Core’s standards.”

6 “Tucker plays fast and loose with the facts, and in the future New Hampshire legislators and educators should make sure a fact-checker is on the premises for a debriefing after he speaks.”

Thank you, Dr. Stotsky.

Read the rest here.

Thomas Jefferson wrote: “But if it is believed that these elementary schools will be better managed by the governor and council, the commissioners of the literary fund, or any other general authority of the government, than by the parents within each ward, it is a belief against all experience.

America, do we you want that sterile, big-government factory vision of workforce-focus to control the nation’s children? How has it worked out for European socialist countries and the communist nations?

Why listen to Tucker and go with his (Common Core’s) flow? Why destroy the vision of our founders, where each caring parent and locality governed the child’s education?

Local control and freedom have made us the greatest nation in the world. Others flock to our universities! Others envy our technological and medical advancement!

Freedom works. Don’t throw it away, foolishly following schemers such as Marc Tucker, David Coleman, Sir Michael Barber, Bill Gates, and Arne Duncan –no matter how fancy the titles of their organizations sound.

We’re at a critical intersection of our country’s history. Our children’s futures and our country’s future depends on us seeing what these schemers are attempting to pull; depends on us standing up and simply saying, “No.”

Top Ten Professors Calling Out Common Core’s So-called College Readiness   136 comments

I can hardly wait to quote these ten brilliant American professors who have spoken out to say that the Common Core is far from its claim of representing academic excellence; that it’s a sheer academic tragedy.

But before I share the professors’ words, let me tell you what sparked today’s post.

I saw for the first time this 2013 document put out by the NCEE (National Center on Education and the Economy) that says OUT LOUD that it’s not important under Common Core to have high educational standards in high school; that it’s silly to waste time educating all high school graduates as high as the level of Algebra II.

No joke. They’re pushing for an emphasis on the lowest common denominator, while marketing Common Core as a push for “rigorous” academics.

Outragous, yes. But absolutely factual: this is what they are telling America: Read these Common Core proponents’ lips:

“Mastery of Algebra II is widely thought to be a prerequisite for success in college and careers. Our research shows that that is not so… Based on our data, one cannot make the case that high school graduates must be proficient in Algebra II to be ready for college and careers. The high school mathematics curriculum is now centered on the teaching of a sequence of courses leading to calculus that includes Geometry, Algebra II, Pre-Calculus and Calculus. However, fewer than five percent of American workers and an even smaller percentage of community college students will ever need to master the courses in this sequence in their college or in the workplace… they should not be required courses in our high schools. To require these courses in high school is to deny to many students the opportunity to graduate high school because they have not mastered a sequence of mathematics courses they will never need. In the face of these findings, the policy of requiring a passing score on an Algebra II exam for high school graduation simply cannot be justified.”

(Maybe Common Core proponents better quit using the word “rigorous.”)

So, the NCEE report goes on to say that traditional high school English classes, with their emphasis on classic literature and personal, narrative writing, is useless. The report says that Common Core will save students from the worthless classics with its emphasis on technical subjects and social studies via the dominance of informational text in the Common Core classroom:

The Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts (CCSSE) address reading in history/social studies as well as science and technical subjects, and in so doing may increase the relevance of high school instruction.”

They just trashed English lit. And, in calling classic literature and personal writing irrelevant, these Common Core proponents only underscore the socialist mentality: that only job prep matters, only the collective economy, not the mind and soul of the individual.

A TOP TEN LIST OF AMERICAN PROFESSORS WHO SPEAK OUT AGAINST COMMON CORE

First, Dr. Anthony Esolen of Providence College in Rhode Island:

“What appalls me most about the standards … is the cavalier contempt for great works of human art and thought, in literary form. It is a sheer ignorance of the life of the imagination. We are not programming machines. We are teaching children. We are not producing functionaries, factory-like. We are to be forming the minds and hearts of men and women… to be human beings, honoring what is good and right and cherishing what is beautiful.”

Second, Dr. Thomas Newkirk of University of New Hampshire:

The standards are portrayed as so consensual, so universally endorsed, so thoroughly researched and vetted, so self-evidently necessary to economic progress, so broadly representative of beliefs in the educational community—that they cease to be even debatable… The principle of opportunity costs prompts us to ask: “What conversations won’t we be having?” Since the CCSS virtually ignore poetry, will we cease to speak about it? What about character education, service learning? What about fiction writing in the upper high school grades? What about the arts that are not amenable to standardized testing? … We lose opportunities when we cease to discuss these issues and allow the CCSS to completely set the agenda, when the only map is the one it creates.”

Third, Dr. Daniel Coupland of Hillsdale College:

“Yes, man is made for work, but he’s also made for so much more… Education should be about the highest things. We should study these things of the stars, plant cells, Mozart’s Requiem… not simply because they’ll get us into the right college or into the right line of work. Rather, we should study these noble things because they can tell us who we are, why we’re here… If education has become –as Common Core openly declares– preparation for work in a global economy, then this situation is far worse than Common Core critics ever anticipated. And the concerns about cost, and quality, and yes, even the constitutionality of Common Core, pale in comparison to the concerns for the hearts, minds, and souls of American children.”

Fourth, Dr. Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University:

“Education reform in the United States is being driven largely by ideology, rhetoric, and dogma instead of evidence…. Where is the evidence of the efficacy of the standards? … Let us be very frank: The CCSS are no improvement over the current set of state standards. The CCSS are simply another set of lists of performance objectives.”

Fifth and Sixth, Dr. James Milgram (Stanford University) and Dr. Sandra Stotsky (University of Arkansas):

“We hear no proponents or endorsers of Common Core’s standards warning this country about the effects of the college-readiness level in Common Core’s mathematics standards on postsecondary and post-baccalaureate academic and professional programs. We hear no proponents or
endorsers of Common Core’s standards advising district superintendents and state education policy makers on the kind of mathematics curriculum and courses they need to make available in our secondary schools if our undergraduate engineering colleges are to enroll American students.
At this time we can only conclude that a gigantic fraud has been perpetrated on this country, in particular on parents in this country, by those developing, promoting, or endorsing Common Core’s standards. We have no illusion that the college-readiness level in ELA will be any more demanding than Common Core’s college-readiness level in mathematics.” – Sept. 2013 paper: Can This Country Survive Common Core’s College
Readiness Level?
by R. James Milgram and Sandra Stotsky

Seventh, Dr. Alan Manning of Brigham Young University:

“The Core standards just set in concrete approaches to reading/writing that we already know don’t work very well. Having the Core standards set in concrete means that any attempts to innovate and improve reading/writing instruction will certainly be crushed. Actual learning outcomes will stagnate at best. An argument can be made that any improvement in reading/writing instruction should include more rather than less attention the reading/analysis of stories known to effective in terms of structure (i.e. “classic” time-tested stories). An argument can be made that any improvement in reading/writing instruction should include more rather than fewer exercises where students write stories themselves that are modeled on the classics. This creates a more stable foundation on which students can build skills for other kinds of writing. The Core standards would prevent public schools from testing these kinds of approaches.”

Eighth, Dr. Bill Evers of Hoover Institute at Stanford University:

“The Common Core — effectively national math and English curriculum standards coming soon to a school near you — is supposed to be a new, higher bar that will take the United States from the academic doldrums to international dominance.

So why is there so much unhappiness about it? There didn’t seem to be much just three years ago. Back then, state school boards and governors were sprinting to adopt the Core. In practically the blink of an eye, 45 states had signed on.

But states weren’t leaping because they couldn’t resist the Core’s academic magnetism. They were leaping because it was the Great Recession — and the Obama administration was dangling a $4.35 billion Race to the Top carrot in front of them. Big points in that federal program were awarded for adopting the Core, so, with little public debate, most did.”

Ninth: Dr. Terrence Moore of Hillsdale College:

“Literature is the study of human nature. If we dissect it in this meaningless way, kids not only do not become college and career ready, they don’t even have a love of learning; they don’t even have an understanding of their fellow men… The thing that bothers me more than anything else is found on page number one of the introduction. That says that Common Core is a living work. That means that the thing that you vote on today could be something different tomorrow, and five years from now it is completely unrecognizable.”

Tenth: Dr. William Mathis, of the University of Colorado

“The adoption of a set of standards and assessments, by themselves, is unlikely to improve learning, increase test scores, or close the achievement gap.
• For schools and districts with weak or non-existent curriculum articulation, the CCSS may adequately serve as a basic curriculum.
• The assessment consortia are currently focused on mathematics and English/language arts. Schools, districts, and states must take proactive steps to protect other vital purposes of education such as citizenship, the arts, and maximizing individual talents – as well as the sciences and social sciences. As testbased penalties have increased, the instructional attention given to non-tested areas has decreased.
• Educators and policymakers need to be aware of the significant costs in instructional materials, training and computerized testing platforms the CCSS requires. It is unlikely the federal or state governments will adequately cover these costs.
• The nation’s “international economic competitiveness” is unlikely to be affected by the presence or absence of national standards.”

Today: Dr. Sandra Stotsky on Utah’s Radio and Newspaper   Leave a comment

Dr. Sandra Stotsky published an opinion editorial in today’s Deseret News, and has also been interviewed by Rod Arquette on his radio show at KNRS today, for this afternoon’s program.

Sandra Stotsky is a lump of gold in a pile of pyrite. She’s one of the strongest voices in America, saying that we must study what we’ve signed up for, do our own fact-checking about Common Core, and wake up before it is too late to change course.

Dr. Stotsky served on the official validation committee for the Common Core standards, and she, along with Dr. James Milgram, a Stanford University mathematician, refused to sign off that the standards were legitimate or that they represented an upgrade for American schools.

Here are a few highlights from today’s op-ed. Read the whole article here.

Dr. Stotsky writes:

“The notion that Common Core’s college and career readiness standards are “rigorous” needs to be publicly put to bed by Arne Duncan, his friends at the Fordham Institute and the media. Two of Common Core’s own mathematics standards writers have publicly stated how weak Common Core’s college readiness mathematics standards are. At a public meeting of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in March 2010, physics professor Jason Zimba said, “The concept of college readiness is minimal and focuses on non-selective colleges.”

“Common Core supporters still can’t figure out how to deal with legitimate criticisms of its English language arts (ELA) standards. So they just keep parroting the line that Common Core’s ELA skills are actually standards, are rigorous and prioritize literary study, when it’s quite obvious to any English teacher that they are none of the above.”

“Common Core was/is not about high-quality national education standards. It was/is not about getting low-income, high-achieving students into advanced math and science courses in high school and then into college. CCSSI was and is about how to lower the academic level of what states require for high school diplomas and for admission to public colleges.”

“Of course, Common Core proponents can’t say that lowering academic standards is their goal. Instead, they claim that its standards will reduce the seemingly terrible problems we have with interstate mobility (actually less than 2 percent nationally) or enable Massachusetts teachers to know how Mississippi students compare to theirs (something they never said they were eager to learn), or facilitate nationally the sale of high-tech products to the public schools (something the P-21 skills folks were eager for). They have looked desperately for motivating issues and these are the best cards in their deck, as poor as they are.”

“Their major selling point is how poor our K-12 public education system is in too many states. But it needs to be strengthened, not weakened. We continue to need capable doctors and engineers who build bridges and tunnels that won’t collapse.”

“Are we as a society really ready to agree to Common Core’s low-expectations for college readiness (as professors Zimba and McCallum indicate)? Are we willing to lower the bar as a way of closing the achievement gap?”

———————————————————————-

Sandra Stotsky is a professor emeritus at the University of Arkansas.

Dr. Stotsky Sets the Record Straight on English Language Arts 70/30% @ USOE   9 comments

Is it logical to say that writing and literature will be effectively taught by all subject teachers?  All teachers do not have adequate training in grammatical, literary and editing background teach writing and literature.  But our Utah State Office is claiming that this will be the case.  A letter, seen below, from Tiffany Hall of the Utah State Office of Education, will serve as evidence.
The USOE is telling legislators and parents that nothing is really being taken away by Common Core, but informational text is being added to English literature in all classes and across all subjects:
The study of literature is not limited or reduced by the Standards,” writes Tiffany Hall of USOE, “Rather, we are looking at a more comprehensive view of literacy that includes a focus on reading information text in all content areas—and not just reading, but reading and writing with purpose and understanding in every subject area.” 
Does that make sense?  Can you imagine P.E. teachers, math teachers, and woodworking teachers effectively sharing the burden of teaching reading and writing skills, including literature and informational texts?  This is how we cut down on remedial college work?
Please.
Before I post the USOE’s letter, here are two messages from Dr. Stotsky– a video, (above) and an explanation (below) from an email I received this week dealing with the misleading statements being put out by the Utah State Office of Education.
Dr. Sandra Stotsky, as you recall, served on the official Common Core Validation Committee and refused to sign off on the validity of the standards because they were so academically weak.

———- Forwarded message ———-

From: Sandra Stotsky

Christel,
This needs to be explained over and over again.  The reading standards for ELA are divided into 10 informational standards and 9 literature standards.  That division goes from K to 12.   It affects high school English as well as middle school English.
It means that over 50% of the reading instruction must be devoted to informational reading and less than 50% to poetry, drama, and fiction.   The 30/70 division is from NAEP and is for the selection of reading passages on NAEP reading assessments.  It is specifically NOT for the English curriculum.
   
Just because David Coleman thinks that the NAEP chart is for the English curriculum doesn’t mean that it is.   He does want informational reading in other subjects.  But he refuses to clarify his stupid misunderstanding of the NAEP percentages.  He doesn’t know how to read tables and charts.
If Tiffany really thinks the 30/70 split means what she thinks it does, ask her how the English teacher can take care of 30% literary reading on a weekly basis (or daily basis) when she only teaches English 20- 25% of the school day or week.   Where is more literary reading to be done to get kids up to the 30% Tiffany thinks kids should be doing?  What other classes will literary reading be done in, if 30% of what kids read every day or every week must be literary and the English teacher is only 1 of 5 subject teachers?
–Dr. Sandra Stotsky
———————-
From USOE’s Tiffany Hall:
Hello—
I appreciate your concern about the Utah Core Standards limiting the study of literature in English classes. I studied and have taught English literature, and if I felt that students were not going to be reading high-quality literature as a part of their K-12 education, I would be devastated.
The study of literature is not limited or reduced by the Standards. Rather, we are looking at a more comprehensive view of literacy that includes a focus on reading information text in all content areas—and not just reading, but reading and writing with purpose and understanding in every subject area. You are correct that we already have these informational  books; we are now focusing on using them more effectively, and in supplementing them with authentic reading from the appropriate content discipline.
The evidence of this can be found in the  Utah Core Standards , which you can read here: http://www.schools.utah.gov/CURR/langartsec/Language-Arts-Secondary-Home/LangArts-CE-web.aspx
I’d like to guide you to a few specific places for evidence relative to your concerns about literature and instruction in English Language Arts (ELA) and how the Utah Core Standards are focused on creating a culture of literacy in schools.
On page 3, the Standards state “The Standards insist that instruction in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language be a shared responsibility within the school. The K–5 standards include expectations for reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language applicable to a range of subjects, including but not limited to ELA. The grades 6–12 standards are divided into two sections, one for ELA and the other for history/social studies, science, and technical subjects. This division reflects the unique, time-honored place of ELA teachers in developing students’ literacy skills while at the same time recognizing that teachers in other areas must have a role in this development as well.”
This section continues on page 4, where there is a table indicating the recommended distribution of literary and informational passages by grade. This table shows a 50-50% split between literary and informational text in grade 4; 45-55% in grade 8; and 30-70% in grade 12. However, this refers to reading over the entire school day, not in a student’s English Language Arts course alone.  The Standards strive to balance the “reading
of literature with the reading of informational texts, including texts in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects…” The level and quality of reading informational text in all subjects is a critical element of creating independent readers who can read and understand a wide variety of texts that are present in career and college settings.
So what do the Standards say about reading in English Language Arts courses? In addition to literature, they also include literary nonfiction. A good example of what these two categories mean can be found page 65, where literary fiction and literary nonfiction texts are sampled. These are not required texts; the choosing of texts remains a local decision. These are offered to illustrate the range of high-quality reading. For example, these are the sample texts listed for students in grades 11 and 12:Literary Fiction:
“Ode on a Grecian Urn” by John Keats (1820)
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (1848)
“Because I Could Not Stop for Death” by Emily Dickinson (1890)
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (1937)
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry (1959)
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri (2003)Literary Non-Fiction:
Common Sense by Thomas Paine (1776)
Walden by Henry David Thoreau (1854)
“Society and Solitude” by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1857)
“The Fallacy of Success” by G. K. Chesterton (1909)
Black Boy by Richard Wright (1945)
“Politics and the English Language” by George Orwell (1946)
“Take the Tortillas Out of Your Poetry” by Rudolfo Anaya (1995)

These selections have merit for their content and their writing. An ELA teacher has the opportunity to link themes and subjects across the full range of literary choices: novels, poems, dramatic works, essays, speeches, memoirs, etc. As an English teacher, I always tried to provide a variety of reading choices for students. Great literary works are how we understand other people, other times, and other cultures. Students need examples of many kinds of great writing.

In Appendix B, found here http://www.schools.utah.gov/CURR/langartsec/Language-Arts-Secondary-Home/APPENDIX-B.aspx, the Standards provide a list of exemplary texts. (These are not required texts, but rather examples of appropriate reading selections.) Please look at the Table of Contents, beginning on page 5, for a listing of readings organized by grade level. You will notice informational readings are included in addition to stories and poetry. Informational reading is an important part of helping students answer questions and learn content in the elementary classroom. However, the topics and presentation are interesting and grade-appropriate. At the elementary level, all subjects are generally taught in the same classroom and by the same teacher, so a wider range of topics is included in these lists.

You’ll notice that by the grades 6-8, the  examples of Informational texts have been grouped by content area (ELA, History/Social Studies, and Science, Mathematics, and Technical Subjects); the ELA texts are literary nonfiction. And, you will probably also notice that the lists of fiction and poetry contain many of your favorites—there are certainly many of mine, including Chaucer, Faulkner, Hemingway, and Shakespeare.

I completely and fundamentally agree with your statement, beautifully written: “Great writing creates great writers. We learn how to write best from studying great literature. We learn about shared values. We learn the consequences of both good and bad choices without having to experiment personally. We learn about our rich culture and heritage when we study the works of Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson and others.” And when I look at the suggested readings in the Standards, these readings are reflected. They are the study of English and Language Arts.

I am not sure from whence the claim that we are replacing literature with “tracts from the EPA” or “dry technical writing” stems. As you have seen in the Standards, the writing is high-quality, appropriate, and interesting.

The Standards outline reading in all the content areas, including writing created by and for scientists, historians, engineers…every field has writing and communication that is important to the work that field supports. While I might not pick up a computer programming manual to read for fun, I know that there are many people who would, and I’m grateful that we are all different in our interests and reading. I am also glad that teachers in all the content areas will choose appropriate informational texts for their students to read and develop content knowledge and communication fluency. As a concerted effort, as a collaborative school, students will have the opportunity to read and learn what they will need to know in our society.

And I will always believe that includes Macbeth and To Kill a Mockingbird.

Thank you for your concern. I hope that examining the evidence—the actual Standards document—has assured you that students in Utah are reading high-quality literature in their ELA classrooms—and reading high-quality writing in all the content areas.

Tiffany Hall, MA, M.Ed.
K-12 Literacy Coordinator
Teaching and Learning
Utah State Office of Education
Please note: Utah has a very broad public records law. Most written communications to or from state employees regarding state business are public records available to the public and media upon request. Your email communication may be subject to public disclosure.

Replacing Common Core With Something Great: An English Language Arts Curriculum Framework – by Sandra Stotsky   Leave a comment

Before Common Core began its disfiguration of the best in American education, Massachusetts had the highest standards in the nation.  Massachusetts’ students scored best in 2005, in 2007, in 2009 and in 2011 –in all four major NAEP categories.  Massachusetts senselessly dropped its high standards in order to apply for the Race to the Top.

Professor Sandra Stotsky  was the developer of those excellent, pre-common core standards for Massachusetts.  Now she has answered the question so many people have asked: “With what shall we replace Common Core?”  Professor Stotsky has written a model curriculum framework  for anyone to adopt, in lieu of Common Core ELA standards, at no cost.

If your state doesn’t decide to use Stotsky’s model curriculum,  I suggest using it as an individual teacher or parent, to help your child achieve much more than the limited Common Core.

The ELA Curriculum Framework of Dr. Stotsky is available online here and I also will post a portion of the 83 page framework here.  Forgive my imperfect formatting; pasting words from a PDF file doesn’t create perfect formatting;  I just can’t refrain from sharing the document’s highlights anyway.

 

 

An English Language Arts Curriculum Framework for American Public Schools

An English Language Arts Curriculum Framework
for American Public Schools:  A Model
For use by any state or school district without charge
Chief author: Sandra Stotsky
Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas
February 2013
An English Language Arts Curriculum Framework for American Public Schools

Table of Contents

Purpose and Sources of this Curriculum Framework   3
Guiding Principles   4

Overview of General Standards and Learning Standards:   7
1. Discussion and Group Work   10
2. Oral Presentation   12
3. Structure and Conventions of Modern English   15
4. Vocabulary and Concept Development   17
5. Formal and Informal English   21
6. Foundations of Reading and Spelling   24
7. Nonfiction   31
8. Fiction   36
9. Poetry   39
10. Drama   41
11. Myth, Legend, Traditional Narrative, and Classical Literature   43
12. The Research Process   48
13. Analytical Writing   51
14. Persuasive Writing   54
15. Personal Writing   56
Appendix A: Suggested Authors and Illustrators Who Reflect Our Common Literary and
Cultural Heritage
Appendix B: Suggested Authors and Illustrators of World Literature and Twentieth-
Century American Literature
Appendix C: Glossary of Terms
Appendix D: A Perspective on the Goals and Content of English Language Arts
Instruction in this Country
Appendix E: The Limited English Proficient Student in the English Language Arts
Classroom
Appendix F: How Literature Can Be Related to Key American Historical Documents
Appendix G: Independent Evaluative Comments
An English Language Arts Curriculum Framework for American Public Schools  3

 

 

Purpose of this Curriculum Framework

This curriculum framework provides standards designed to guide reading and English teachers in  the development of a coherent English language arts curriculum from PreK to 12. It is based on
two premises: that learning in the English language arts should be cumulative and that the reading of increasingly challenging literary and non-literary works as well as the writing of increasingly
extensive research papers are the basis for developing the independent thinking needed for selfgovernment.
The four discipline-based strands in this framework—Listening and Speaking, Language Study,  Reading and Literature, and Research and Composition—are interdependent. At all grade levels,
a sound English language arts curriculum integrates concepts and skills from all four strands.  A sound reading and literature curriculum also expects students to apply their language skills to
increasingly challenging material linked in ways that promote cumulative learning. A coherent  sequence of reading, research, and writing assignments ensures that students both broaden and
deepen their base of literary/historical knowledge. It is this broadening and deepening knowledge  base that stimulates intellectual growth and enhances their capacity for independent critical
thinking.
Sources of this Curriculum Framework

The four discipline-based areas reflected in the 15 General Standards are broad statements of  what students should know and be able to do in the English language arts. They are then broken
down into Learning Standards for each grade from PreK to 12. These General Standards and Learning Standards come from a long-planned revision of the 2001 Massachusetts English
Language Arts Curriculum Framework. The final draft of the revised framework, completed in  November 2009, reduced the 27 General Standards in the 2001 framework to 15 in order to
eliminate repetition and call attention to more demanding reading and literary study in the high  school grades; expressed the 2001 Learning Standards with greater clarity; and offered additional
learning standards for beginning reading and spelling, a sequence of new standards for nonfiction  reading in the elementary and middle grades, and a richer sequence for vocabulary development.
This draft framework was never sent to the board of elementary and secondary education for a  vote to send it out for public comment. It went to the board in July 2010 only as a working draft
(http://www.doe.mass.edu/frameworks/ela/0610draft.pdf) and simply for the board’s information.  It accompanied Common Core’s final version of its English language arts standards and other
materials expressly developed to support the board’s adoption of Common Core’s standards.  The ten Guiding Principles come from the 2001 Massachusetts English Language Arts  Curriculum Framework; they articulate a set of beliefs about the teaching, learning, and assessing  of the English language arts. Appendix A is from the original, 1997 version of this framework; it  is a suggested list of authors and illustrators who reflect our common literary and cultural  heritage. Its K-8 list was reviewed, organized, and approved by the editors of The Horn Book  using, as requested in 1997, one criterion: literary quality; the 9-12 list was reviewed by literary  scholars from diverse backgrounds. Appendix B is from the 2001 curriculum framework and is a
suggested list of twentieth-century American authors and illustrators, as well as of past and  present authors from other countries and cultures. Appendix C, a glossary explaining technical
words and phrases, as well as Appendices D, E, and F, also come from the 2001 framework.  Appendix G, which contains an evaluation of the 2010 draft revision of the 2001 Curriculum
Framework, is from the Fordham Institute’s 2010 review of state standards.

An English Language Arts Curriculum Framework for American Public Schools

 Guiding Principles

The following principles are philosophical statements to guide the construction and evaluation of  English language arts curricula.

Guiding Principle 1

An effective English language arts curriculum develops thinking and language together through interactive learning. Effective language use both requires and extends thinking. As learners listen to a speech, view a documentary, discuss a poem, or write an essay, they engage in thinking. The standards in this framework specify the intellectual processes that students draw on as they use language. Students develop their ability to remember, understand, analyze, evaluate, and apply the ideas they encounter in the English language arts and in all the other disciplines when they undertake increasingly challenging assignments that require them to write or speak in response to what they are learning.
Guiding Principle 2

An effective English language arts curriculum develops students’ oral language and literacy through appropriately challenging learning. A well planned English language arts instructional program provides students with a variety of oral language activities, high-quality and appropriate reading materials, and opportunities to work with others who are reading and writing. In the primary grades, systematic phonics instruction and regular practice in applying decoding skills to decodable materials are essential elements of the school program. Reading to preschool and primary grade children plays an especially critical role in developing children’s vocabulary, their knowledge of the natural world, and their appreciation for the power of the imagination. Beyond the primary grades, students continue to refine all their language skills.

Guiding Principle 3
An effective English language arts curriculum draws on literature from many genres, time periods, and cultures, featuring works that reflect our common literary heritage.  American students need to become familiar with works that are part of a literary tradition going  back thousands of years. Thus, the curriculum should emphasize literature reflecting the literary  and civic heritage of the English-speaking world. Students also should gain exposure to works  from the many communities that make up contemporary America as well as from countries and  cultures throughout the world.  Appendix A of this framework presents a list of suggested authors and illustrators reflecting the  common literary and cultural heritage of students attending public schools in this country.
Appendix B presents lists of suggested twentieth-century American authors and illustrators, as well as past and present authors from other countries and cultures. In order to foster a love of
reading and prepare students for a meaningful high school diploma, English and reading teachers  need to encourage a great deal of independent reading outside of class. School librarians play a
key role in finding books to match students’ interests and in suggesting further resources in public  libraries.

Guiding Principle 4

An effective English language arts curriculum emphasizes writing as an essential way to develop,  clarify, and communicate ideas in expository, persuasive, narrative, and expressive discourse.
At all levels, students’ writing records their imagination and exploration. As students attempt to  write clearly and coherently about increasingly complex ideas, their writing serves to propel
intellectual growth. Through writing, students develop their ability to think, to communicate ideas, and to create worlds unseen.

Guiding Principle 5

An effective English language arts curriculum provides for the study of all forms of media.  Multimedia, television, radio, film, Internet, and videos are prominent modes of communication
in the modern world. Like literary genres, each of these media has its unique characteristics, and students learn to apply techniques used in the study of literature and exposition to the evaluation
of multimedia, television, radio, film, Internet sites, and video.

Guiding Principle 6

An effective English language arts curriculum provides explicit skill instruction in reading and  writing.  Explicit skill instruction can be most effective when it precedes student need. Systematic phonics  lessons, in particular decoding skills, should be taught to students before they try to use them in  their subsequent reading. Systematic instruction is especially important for those students who  have not developed phonemic awareness — the ability to pay attention to the component sounds  of language. Effective instruction can take place in small groups, individually, or on a whole class  basis. Explicit skill instruction can also be effective when it responds to specific problems in  student work. For example, a teacher should monitor students’ progress in using quotation marks  to punctuate dialogue in their stories, and then provide direct instruction when needed.

Guiding Principle 7

An effective English language arts curriculum teaches the strategies necessary for acquiring  academic knowledge, achieving common academic standards, and attaining independence in
learning.  Students need to develop a repertoire of learning strategies that they consciously practice and  apply in increasingly diverse and demanding contexts. Skills become strategies for learning when  they are internalized and applied purposefully. For example, a research skill has become a  strategy when a student formulates his own questions and initiates a plan for locating information.   A reading skill has become a strategy when a student sounds out unfamiliar words, or  automatically makes and confirms predictions while reading. A writing skill has become a
strategy when a student monitors her own writing by spontaneously asking herself, “Does this  organization work?” or “Are my punctuation and spelling correct?” When students are able to
articulate their own learning strategies, evaluate their effectiveness, and use those that work best  for them, they have become independent learners.

Guiding Principle 8

An effective English language arts curriculum builds on the language, experiences, and interests  that students bring to school.  Teachers recognize the importance of being able to respond effectively to the challenges of  linguistic and cultural differences in their classrooms. Sometimes students have learned ways of  talking, thinking, and interacting that are effective at home and in their neighborhood, but which  may not have the same meaning or usefulness in school. Teachers try to draw on these different  ways of talking and thinking as bridges to speaking and writing in Standard American English.

Guiding Principle 9

An effective English language arts curriculum develops each student’s distinctive writing or  speaking voice. A student’s writing and speaking voice is an expression of self.  Students’ voices tell us who they are, how they think, and what unique perspectives they bring to  their learning. Students’ voices develop when teachers provide opportunities for interaction,  exploration, and communication. When students discuss ideas and read one another’s writing,  they learn to distinguish between formal and informal communication. They also learn about their  classmates as unique individuals who can contribute their distinctive ideas, aspirations, and  talents to the class, the school, the community, and the nation.
Guiding Principle 10

While encouraging respect for differences in home backgrounds, an effective English language  arts curriculum nurtures students’ sense of their common ground as present or future American
citizens in order to prepare them for responsible participation in our schools and in civic life.  Teachers instruct an increasingly diverse group of students in their classrooms each year.
Students may come from any country or continent in the world. Taking advantage of this  diversity, teachers guide discussions about the extraordinary variety of beliefs and traditions
around the world. At the same time, they provide students with common ground through discussion of significant works in American cultural history to help prepare them to become selfgoverning
citizens of the United States of America. An English language arts curriculum can  serve as a unifying force in schools and society.

Appendix A: Suggested Authors and Illustrators Who Reflect Our Common Literary and Cultural Heritage

All American students must acquire knowledge of a range of literary works reflecting our common literary heritage. It is a heritage that goes back thousands of years to the ancient world. In addition, all students should become familiar with some of the outstanding works in the rich body of literature that is their particular heritage in the English-speaking world. This includes a literature that was created just for children because its authors saw childhood as a special period in life. It was also the first literature in the world created for them.

The suggestions below constitute a core list of those authors and illustrators (and a few specific works) that comprise the literary and intellectual capital drawn on by those who write in English, whether for novels, poems, newspapers, or public speeches, in this country or elsewhere. Knowledge of these authors and illustrators in their original, adapted, or revised editions will contribute significantly to a student’s ability to understand literary allusions and participate effectively in our common civic culture.

A curriculum drawing on these suggested lists will also provide significant support for the major reason statewide learning standards were developed—to ensure equity and high academic expectations for all students. A literature curriculum should include works drawn from this list and contemporary works of similar quality, drawn from cultures around the world from many historical periods. It is then possible to assure parents and other citizens that all students will be expected to read at a high level of reading difficulty. By themselves, even the most carefully crafted learning standards cannot guarantee that expectation for all students.

Effective English language arts teachers teach all students to comprehend and analyze a variety of significant literature. To ensure that all students read challenging material, teachers may choose to present excerpts of longer works, or vary the amount of class time devoted to a specific work or cluster of works. As all English teachers know, some authors have written many works, not all of which are of equally high quality. We expect teachers to use their literary judgment as they make selections.

In planning a curriculum, it is important to balance depth with breadth. As teachers in schools and districts work with this curriculum framework to develop literature units, they will often combine works from the two lists into thematic units. Exemplary curriculum is always evolving. We urge districts to take initiative to create programs meeting the needs of their students.

The suggested lists of Appendices A and B are organized by the grade-span levels of PreK-2, 3-4, 5-8, and 9-12. A few authors are repeated in adjoining grade-spans, giving teachers the option to match individual students with the books that suit their interests and developmental levels. The decision to present a Grades 9-12 list (as opposed to Grades 9-10 and 11-12) stems from the recognition that teachers should be free to choose selections that challenge, but do not overwhelm, their students.

PreK-2*

For reading, listening, and viewing:   Mother Goose nursery rhymes, Aesop’s fables, Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories, Selected Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales, Selected French fairy tales, The Bible as literature, Tales including Jonah and the whale, Daniel and the lion’s den, Noah and the Ark, Moses and the burning bush, the story of Ruth, David and Goliath

Picture book authors and illustrators: Ludwig Bemelmans, Margaret Wise Brown, John Burningham, Virginia Lee Burton, Randolph Caldecott, Edgar Parin and Ingri D’Aulaire, William Pène du Bois, Wanda Gág, Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss), Kate Greenaway, Shirley Hughes, Crockett Johnson, Robert Lawson, Munro Leaf, Robert McCloskey, A. A. Milne, William Nicholson, Maud and Miska Petersham, Alice and Martin Provensen, Beatrix Potter, H. A. and Margaret Rey, Maurice Sendak, Vera Williams

Poets: John Ciardi, Rachel Field, David McCord, A. A. Milne, Laura Richards

Grades 3-4*

The Bible as literature: Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, David and Jonathan, the Prodigal Son, the visit of the Magi, well-known psalms (e.g., 23, 24, 46, 92, 121, and 150) Greek, Roman, or Norse myths; Native American myths and legends; stories about King Arthur and Robin Hood

British authors: Frances Burnett, Lewis Carroll, Kenneth Grahame, Dick King-Smith, Edith Nesbit, Mary Norton, Margery Sharp, Robert Louis Stevenson, P. L. Travers American authors and illustrators L. Frank Baum, Beverly Cleary, Elizabeth Coatsworth, Mary Mapes Dodge, Elizabeth Enright, Eleanor Estes, Jean George, Sterling North, Howard Pyle, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Carl Sandburg, George Selden, Louis Slobodkin, E. B. White, Laura Ingalls Wilder

Poets: Stephen Vincent and Rosemarie Carr Benét, Lewis Carroll, John Ciardi, Rachel Field, Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Edward Lear, Myra Cohn Livingston, David McCord, A. A. Milne, Laura Richards *Authors and titles were reviewed by the editors of The Horn Book.

Grades 5-8*

Selections from Grimm’s fairy tales, French fairy tales, Tales by Hans Christian Andersen and Rudyard Kipling, Aesop’s fables, Greek, Roman, or Norse myths, Native American myths and legends, Stories about King Arthur, Robin Hood, Beowulf and Grendel, St. George and the Dragon

The Bible as literature: Old Testament: Genesis, Ten Commandments, Psalms and Proverbs New Testament: Sermon on the Mount; Parables British and European authors or illustrators James Barrie, Frances Burnett, Lucy Boston, Lewis Carroll, Carlo Collodi, Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle, Daniel Defoe, Leon Garfield, Kenneth Grahame, C. S. Lewis, George MacDonald, Edith Nesbit, Mary Norton, Philippa Pearce, Arthur Rackham, Anna Sewell, William Shakespeare, Johanna Spyri, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jonathan Swift, J. R. R. Tolkien, P. L. Travers, T.H.White

American authors or illustrators: Louisa May Alcott, Lloyd Alexander, Natalie Babbitt, L.Frank Baum, Nathaniel Benchley, Carol Ryrie Brink, Elizabeth Coatsworth, Esther Forbes, Paula Fox, Jean George, Virginia Hamilton, Bret Harte, Irene Hunt, Washington Irving, Sterling North, Scott O’Dell, Maxfield Parrish, Howard Pyle, Edgar Allan Poe, Ellen Raskin, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Elizabeth Speare, Anna Sewell, Booth Tarkington, Mark Twain, James Thurber, E. B. White, Laura Ingalls Wilder, N. C. Wyeth

Poets: Stephen Vincent and Rosemarie Carr Benét, Lewis Carroll, John Ciardi, Rachel Field, Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Edward Lear, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, David McCord, Ogden Nash

Grades 9-12: American Literature

Historical documents of literary and philosophical significance: Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, The Declaration of Independence, Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, John F. Kennedy’s inaugural speech, William Faulkner’s Nobel Prize Lecture

Major writers of the 18th and 19th centuries: James Fenimore Cooper, Stephen Crane, Emily Dickinson, Frederick Douglass, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Benjamin Franklin, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry James, Thomas Jefferson, Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, Henry David Thoreau, Mark Twain, Phillis Wheatley, Walt Whitman

Major writers of the early-to-mid 20th century: Henry Adams, James Baldwin, Arna Bontemps, Willa Cather, Kate Chopin, Countee Cullen, Ralph Ellison, William Faulkner, Jessie Fauset, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Charlotte Gilman, James Weldon Johnson, Ernest Hemingway, O. Henry, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Sarah Orne Jewett, Flannery O’Connor, Ayn Rand, Gertrude Stein,  John Steinbeck, James Thurber, Jean Toomer, Booker T. Washington, Edith Wharton, Richard Wright

Playwrights: Lorraine Hansberry, Lillian Hellman, Arthur Miller, Eugene O’Neill, Thornton Wilder, Tennessee Williams, August Wilson

Major poets: Elizabeth Bishop, e e cummings, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, T. S. Eliot, Robinson Jeffers, Amy Lowell, Robert Lowell, Edgar Lee Masters, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Marianne Moore, Sylvia Plath, Ezra Pound, John Ransom, Edward Arlington Robinson, Theodore Roethke, Wallace Stevens, Alan Tate, Sara Teasdale, William Carlos Williams

The European, Asian, Caribbean, Central American and South American immigrant experience (e.g., Ole Rolvaag, Younghill Kang, Abraham Cahan), the experiences of Native Americans, and slave narratives ( e.g., Harriet Jacobs)

Grades 9-12: British and European Literature

The Bible as literature: Genesis, Ten Commandments, Psalms and Proverbs, Job, Sermon on the Mount, Parables

A higher level rereading of Greek mythology

Selections from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales

Major poets: Homer

Epic poets: Dante and John Milton

Sonnets: William Shakespeare, John Milton, Edmund Spenser

Metaphysical poets: John Donne, George Herbert, Andrew Marvell

Romantic poets: William Blake, Lord Byron, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, William Wordsworth

Victorian poets:  Matthew Arnold, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Browning, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Alfred Lord Tennyson

Modern poets: W. H. Auden, A. E. Housman, Dylan Thomas, William Butler Yeats

Playwrights: Classical Greek dramatists, William Shakespeare, Anton Chekhov, Henrik Ibsen, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde

Essayists:

British: Joseph Addison, Sir Francis Bacon, Samuel Johnson in “The Rambler,” Charles Lamb, George Orwell, Leonard Woolf, Virginia Woolf

From the Enlightenment: Voltaire, Diderot, and other Encyclopédistes, Jean Jacques Rousseau

Fiction: Selections from early novels: La Vida de Lazarillo de Tormes, Don Quixote, Joseph Andrews, The Vicar of Wakefield, Selections from Pilgrim’s Progress

Selections from satire and mock epic, verse, or prose: Lord Byron, Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift

19th century novels: Jane Austen, Emily Brontë, Joseph Conrad, Charles Dickens, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, Victor Hugo, Mary Shelley, Leo Tolstoy

20th century novels: Albert Camus, André Gide, James Joyce, Franz Kafka, D. H. Lawrence, Jean Paul Sartre, Virginia Woolf

Appendix B: Suggested Authors and Illustrators of Twentieth Century American Literature and of World Literature

…As all English teachers know, some authors have written many works, not all of which are of equally high quality. We expect teachers to use their literary judgment in selecting any particular work. It is hoped that teachers will find here many authors with whose works they are already familiar, and will be introduced to yet others. A comprehensive literature curriculum balances these authors and illustrators with those found in Appendix A.

Grades PreK-2

Aliki, Mitsumasa Anno, Edward Ardizzone, Molly Bang, Paulette Bourgeois, Jan Brett, Norman Bridwell, Raymond Briggs, Marc Brown, Marcia Brown, Margaret Wise Brown, Eve Bunting, Ashley Bryan, Eric Carle, Lucille Clifton, Joanna Cole, Barbara Cooney, Joy Cowley, Donald Crews,Tomie dePaola, Leo and Diane Dillon, Tom Feelings, Mem Fox, Don Freeman, Gail Gibbons, Eloise Greenfield, Helen Griffith, Donald Hall, Russell and Lillian Hoban, Tana Hoban, Thacher Hurd, Gloria Huston, Trina Schart Hyman, Ezra Jack Keats, Steven Kellogg, Reeve Lindberg, Leo Lionni, Arnold Lobel, Gerald McDermott, Patricia McKissack, James Marshall, Bill Martin, Mercer Mayer, David McPhail, Else Holmelund Minarik, Robert Munsch, Jerry Pinkney, Patricia Polacco, Jack Prelutsky, Faith Ringgold, Glen Rounds, Cynthia Rylant, Allen Say, Marcia Sewall, Marjorie Sharmat, Peter Spieg, William Steig, John Steptoe, Tomi Ungerer, Chris Van Allsburg, Jean van Leeuwen, Judith Viorst, Rosemary Wells, Vera Williams, Ed Young, Margot and Harve Zemach, Charlotte Zolotow

Grades 3–4

Joan Aiken, Lynne Reid Banks, Raymond Bial, Judy Blume, Eve Bunting, Joseph Bruchac, Ashley Bryan, Betsy Byars , Ann Cameron, Andrew Clements. Shirley Climo, Eleanor Coerr, Paula Danziger,Walter Farley, John Fitzgerald, Louise Fitzhugh, Paul Fleischman, Sid Fleischman, Mem Fox, Jean Fritz, John Reynolds Gardiner, James Giblin, Patricia Reilly Giff, Jamie Gilson, Paul Goble, Marguerite Henry, Johanna Hurwitz, Peg Kehret, Jane Langton, Kathryn Lasky, Jacob Lawrence, Patricia Laube, Julius Lester, Gail Levine, David Macaulay, Patricia MacLachlan, Mary Mahy, Barry Moser, Patricia Polacco, Daniel Pinkwater, Jack Prelutsky, Louis Sachar, Alvin Schwartz, John Scieszka, Shel Silverstein, Seymour Simon, Mildred Taylor, Ann Warren Turner, Mildred Pitts Walter

Grades 5–8

Isaac Asimov, Avi, James Berry, Nancy Bond, Ray Bradbury, Bruce Brooks, Joseph Bruchac, Alice Childress, Vera and Bill Cleaver, James and Christopher Collier, Caroline Coman, Susan Cooper, Robert Cormier, Bruce Coville, Sharon Creech, Chris Crutcher, Christopher Paul Curtis, Karen Cushman, Michael Dorris, Paul Fleischman, Russell Freedman, Jack Gantos, Sheila Gordon, Bette Greene, Rosa Guy, Mary Downing Hahn, Joyce Hansen, James Herriot, Karen Hesse, S. E. Hinton, Felice Holman, Irene Hunt, Paul Janeczko, Angela Johnson, Diana Wynne Jones, Norton Juster, M. E. Kerr, E. L. Konigsburg, Kathryn Lasky, Madeleine L’Engle, Ursula LeGuin, Robert Lipsyte, Lois Lowry, Anne McCaffrey, Robin McKinley, Patricia McKissack, Margaret Mahy, Albert Marrin, Milton Meltzer, Jim Murphy, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Naomi Nye, Richard Peck, Daniel Pinkwater, Philip Pullman, Ellen Raskin, J. K. Rowling, Cynthia Rylant, Louis Sachar, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Gary Soto, Mildred Taylor, Theodore Taylor, Yoshiko Uchida, Cynthia Voigt, Yoko Kawashima Watkins, Janet Wong, Laurence Yep, Jane Yolen, Paul Zindel

Grades 9–12:

Twentieth-Century American Literature

Fiction: James Agee, Maya Angelou, Saul Bellow, Pearl Buck, Raymond Carver, John Cheever Sandra Cisneros, Arthur C. Clarke, E. L. Doctorow, Louise Erdrich, Nicholas Gage, Ernest K. Gaines, Alex Haley, Joseph Heller, William Hoffman, John Irving, William Kennedy, Ken Kesey, Jamaica Kincaid, Maxine Hong Kingston, Jon Krakauer, Harper Lee, Bernard Malamud, Carson McCullers, Toni Morrison, Joyce Carol Oates, Tim O’Brien, Edwin O’Connor, Cynthia Ozick, Chaim Potok, Reynolds Price, Annie Proulx, Richard Rodrigues, Leo Rosten, J. D. Salinger, William Saroyan, May Sarton, Jane Smiley, Betty Smith, Wallace Stegner, Amy Tan, Anne Tyler, John Updike, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Alice Walker, Robert Penn Warren, Eudora Welty, Thomas Wolfe, Tobias Wolff, Anzia Yezierska

Poetry: Claribel Alegria, Julia Alvarez, A. R. Ammons, Maya Angelou, John Ashberry, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Amirai Baraka (LeRoi Jones), Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Bly, Louise Bogan, Gwendolyn Brooks, Sterling Brown, Hayden Carruth, J. V. Cunningham, Rita Dove, Alan Dugan, Richard Eberhart, Martin Espada, Allen Ginsberg, Louise Gluck, John Haines, Donald Hall, Robert Hayden, Anthony Hecht, Randall Jarrell, June Jordan, Galway Kinnell, Stanley Kunitz, Philip Levine, Audrey Lord, Amy Lowell, Robert Lowell, Louis MacNeice, James Merrill, Mary Tall Mountain, Sylvia Plath, Anna Quindlen, Ishmael Reed, Adrienne Rich, Theodore Roethke, Anne Sexton, Karl Shapiro, Gary Snyder, William Stafford, Mark Strand, May Swenson, Margaret Walker, Richard Wilbur, Charles Wright, Elinor Wylie

Essays/Nonfiction (contemporary and historical)

Edward Abbey, Susan B. Anthony, Russell Baker, Ambrose Bierce, Carol Bly, Dee Brown, Art Buchwald, William F. Buckley, Rachel Carson, Margaret Cheney, Marilyn Chin, Stanley Crouch, Joan Didion, Annie Dillard, W. E. B. Du Bois, Gretel Ehrlich, Loren Eiseley, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Doris Goodwin, Stephen Jay Gould, John Gunther, John Hersey, Edward Hoagland, Helen Keller, William Least Heat Moon, Barry Lopez, J. Anthony Lukas, Mary McCarthy, Edward McClanahan, David McCullough, John McPhee, William Manchester, H. L. Menken, N. Scott Momaday, Samuel Eliot Morison, Lance Morrow, Bill Moyers, John Muir, Anna Quindlen, Chet Raymo, Richard Rodriguez, Eleanor Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, Carl Sagan, William Shirer, Shelby Steele, Lewis Thomas, Walter Muir Whitehill. Malcolm X

Drama

Edward Albee, Robert Bolt, Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, Archibald MacLeish, David Mamet, Terrence Rattigan, Ntozake Shange, Neil Simon, Orson Welles

Grades 9–12: Historical and Contemporary World Literature

Fiction

Chinua Achebe, S. Y. Agnon, Ilse Aichinger, Isabel Allende, Jerzy Andrzejewski, Margaret Atwood, Isaac Babel, James Berry, Heinrich Boll, Jorge Luis Borges, Mikhail Bulgakov, Dino Buzzati, S. Byatt, Italo Calvino, Karl Capek, Carlo Cassola, Camillo Jose Cela, Julio Cortazar, Isak Dinesen, E. M. Forster, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nikolai Gogol, William Golding, Robert Graves, Hermann Hesse, Wolfgang Hildesheimer, Aldous Huxley, Kazuo Ishiguro, Yuri Kazakov, Milan Kundera, Stanislaw Lem, Primo Levi, Jacov Lind, Clarice Lispector, Naguib Mahfouz, Thomas Mann, Alberto Moravia, Mordechi Richler, Alice Munro, Vladimir Nabokov, V. S. Naipaul, Alan Paton, Cesar Pavese, Santha Rama Rau, Rainer Maria Rilke, Ignazio Silone, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Alexander Solshenitsyn, Niccolo Tucci, Mario Vargas-Llosa, Elie Wiesel, Emile Zola

Poetry

Bella Akhmadulina, Anna Akhmatova, Rafael Alberti, Josif Brodsky, Constantine Cavafis, Odysseus Elytis, Federico García Lorca, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, Czeslaw Milosz, Gabriela Mistral, Pablo Neruda, Octavio Paz, Jacques Prévert, Alexander Pushkin, Salvatore Cuasimodo, Juan Ramon Ramirez, Arthur Rimbaud, Pierre de Ronsard, George Seferis, Léopold Sédar Senghor, Wole Soyinka, Marina Tsvetaeva, Paul Verlaine, Andrei Voznesensky, Derek Walcott, Yevgeny Yevtushenko

Essays/Nonfiction

Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi, Steven Hawking, Arthur Koestler, Margaret Laurence, Michel de Montaigne, Shiva Naipaul, Octavio Paz, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Alexis de Tocqueville, Voltaire, Rebecca West, Marguerite Yourcenar

Drama:  Jean Anouilh, Fernando Arrabal, Samuel Beckett, Bertolt Brecht, Albert Camus, Jean  Cocteau, Athol Fugard, Jean Giraudoux, Eugene Ionesco, Molière, John Mortimer, Sean O’Casey, John Osborne, Harold Pinter, Luigi Pirandello, Racine, Jean-Paul Sartre, Tom Stoppard, John Millington Synge

Religious Literature:  Analects of Confucius. Bhagavad-Gita, Koran, Tao Te Ching, Book of the Hopi, Zen parables, Buddhist scripture