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Do the Common Standards Need Clarifying?

There has been lots of interesting discussion recently about the Common Core State Standards. Here are a few of the things worth reading, beginning with observations from two people who are actually out there doing the work:

• A Minnesota teacher writes in the Daily Planet about her conversion from skeptic to fan of the English/language arts standards. Part one of her reflections is here, and part two is here.

• A New York state teacher reports on his first brush with the common standards. Penning a guest column for The Washington Post's Valerie Strauss, a common-core critic, teacher Jeremiah Chaffee says that the standards are "out of sync ... with what I consider to be good teaching." Chaffee says he found exemplar lessons for the standards too scripted, and disagrees with the standards' emphasis on close reading.

• In a commentary piece for EdWeek, education consultant Mike Schmoker and education professor Gerald Graff welcome the standards' emphasis on argumentation, but caution that those sections of the standards need to be slimmed down and clarified so they don't "drown out and obscure" their own good intentions.

• A newspaper editor in Arkansas who attended a statewide summit about the common core is not sold. Roy Ockert, editor emeritus of the Jonesboro Sun, says that too few members of the general public know what the standards are. He makes the worrisome observation that there has been precious little coverage of the standards in mainstream newspapers, something I've noticed with concern myself.

• And the debate goes on about whether federal officials essentially forced states to adopt the standards. In response to a white paper and newspaper column (both of which we told you about in an earlier blog post) arguing that the feds overstepped, Christopher Cross, a former federal department of education official who helped craft regulations about the federal department's role in curriculum, contends that states freely embraced the standards.

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