FREE internationally benchmarked ELA standards for any state with the guts to adopt them

May 3, 2013 2 Comments

The Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers (ALSCW) promotes excellence in literary criticism and scholarship, and works to ensure that literature thrives in both scholarly and creative environments. They have made the following set of English Language Arts standards for k-12 available FOR FREE to any school, district or state who has the guts to do what is in the best interest of children.

Instead of taking the word of the Common Core ELA standards writer David Coleman, who has never taught English or holds a doctoral degree in education, I would hang my hat on this group of experienced English professors, teachers and literary experts. Read ‘em and weep, Coleman!

 

 

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  1. ted says:

    Thanks for posting this, Erin. I enjoyed looking through these standards.

    Your post more than implies that these standards are far superior to CCSS. This may or may not be true. Without a more complete analysis, I’m not certain. The standards-making process aside, what would you characterize as the central differences between these standards and the Common Core ELA Standards? What would Coleman or other CCSS-supporters be “read[ing]” and “weep[ing]” about in reading this ALSCW framework? I’m asking this as a serious question as I think that often in the CCSS debate, non-curricular arguments tend to underscore the debate as opposed to C&I-related considerations. After all shouldn’t the rigor, coherence, focus and clarity of a curriculum framework be at the heart of the debate?

    Based on a quick glance, I think there’s a lot to like about BOTH standard frameworks as BOTH are actually similar in many respects. Both frameworks are rigorous in what they expect from students. Both are coherent. More specifically, both include separate sections on informational (nonfiction) text that prioritize text features, structures, identification of controlling ideas, and identifying, examining and tracing an author’s use of evidence. While the ALSCW framework does a nice job to identify differences between persuasive and expository texts in the informational text section, the CCSS informational text section seems to do a better job in challenging students to synthesize, compare/contrast and integrate ideas from multiple nonfiction texts. Both frameworks place an emphasis on an author’s use of structures, features, and words to support and amplify meaning in a text. Both frameworks include suggested (or exemplar) texts that draw on both contemporary and classic literature, including the inclusion of foundational documents in both standards’ high school sections. Both prioritize the use of varied informational texts (including in ALSCW’s case “procedural texts or documents (recipes, directions, manuals, schedules, application forms, contracts and other legal documents)”). This inclusion of “procedural texts” has been much maligned in the anti-CCSS commentary, yet it surfaces here as well. Further, Stosky and others have claimed that the emphasis on informational text has put English teachers in a position to teach that which they are not trained to teach. Doesn’t the ALSCW framework also ask teachers to integrate challenging informational texts in their ELA curriculum and support students in their understanding and analysis of their content? Both also place an emphasis on many process and product-oriented features common to the three different writing types–personal/narrative, expository and argument/persuasion.

    There are a few distinctions worth mentioning. The ALSCW framework separates out certain genres such as poetry and drama, where CCSS either invites teachers to determine how to integrate these genres OR finds ways to integrate specific genre types into the lit and IT standards themselves (e.g. folktales, myths, fairy tales, epic tales, lit from other cultures). So while the organization is slightly different, the focus on these specific genres is still present in both. The ALSCW also includes a separate section on research whereas the CCSS implicates research in the RI/RL.9 reading standards (and writing standards–W.7). I actually like CCSS better in this regard as it makes a subtle connection between the core components of the reading curriculum and short research projects connected to these texts (rather than one long research project done during the middle school years). I also like CCSS’ emphasis on opinion writing in the K-5 years as opposed to ALSCW’s focus on persuasion (grades 1-2 focus on letter writing, which is fine, but opinion writing forges a greater link to core curricular texts).

    I appreciate Stotsky’s criticisms of the CCSS, but isn’t there some risk that the anti-CCSS crowd is overstating the differences between this and CCSS? (I will say that the 50-50% split of informational text and literary text is a silly inclusion in CCSS. I can see where Stotksy, Ravitch and others object). At a minimum, wouldn’t you at least concede that this isn’t a “read ‘em weep” kind of discussion? Can’t we agree that the debate between these frameworks might require some greater sense of nuance?

    I agree that the process used to adopt CCSS was not in line with the long-standing role state educators have been accustomed to having. Of course, when you say that the ALSCW framework is available to any state or district “who has the guts to adopt it,” I assume you mean that this standards framework would be a starting point for any state interested in revising its standards. Otherwise the state would be guilty of the same hasty adoption process you fault them for with CCSS.

    Thanks again for posting this, and I hope that close reads of both frameworks will bring about fruitful debates over what a good set of standards really entails.

    -Ted

    PS Congrats on your hard work to get the legislation passed. I know you and Heather worked very hard on this. While I don’t agree with the decision, I do appreciate the fact that people stepped up to fight for what they believed in.

    • Erin Tuttle says:

      “Your post more than implies that these standards are far superior to CCSS. This may or may not be true. Without a more complete analysis, I’m not certain.”

      SHEILA BYRD CARMICHAEL’S ANALYSIS OF THIS FREE SET OF ELA STANDARDS, BASED ON THE FIRST-CLASS MASSACHUSETTS CURRICULUM FRAMEWORK OF 2001, DECLARED THAT THESE STANDARDS CONSTITUTE A “MODEL.” SHE MADE MANY, MANY NEGATIVE COMMENTS ABOUT COMMON CORE’S ELA STANDARDS IN HER 2010 REVIEW FOR FORDHAM INSTITUTE. (FORDHAM NEVERTHELESS GAVE COMMON CORE’S ELA STANDARDS A B+ TO MAKE IT LOOK COMPETITIVE BECAUSE IT HAD RECEIVED ALMOST ONE MILLION DOLLARS FROM THE GATES FOUNDATION TO DO SO.) HER REVIEW OF COMMON CORE’S ELA STANDARDS IN THAT 2010 FORDHAM MONOGRAPH SHOULD BE COMPARED WITH HER REVIEW OF THE ALSCW DOCUMENT, WHICH IS THE LAST APPENDIX IN THE ALSCW DOCUMENT.

      “The standards-making process aside, what would you characterize as the central differences between these standards and the Common Core ELA Standards? What would Coleman or other CCSS-supporters be “read[ing]” and “weep[ing]” about in reading this ALSCW framework? I’m asking this as a serious question as I think that often in the CCSS debate, non-curricular arguments tend to underscore the debate as opposed to C&I-related considerations. After all shouldn’t the rigor, coherence, focus and clarity of a curriculum framework be at the heart of the debate?”

      EXACTLY. COMMON CORE’S ELA STANDARDS HAVE NO COHERENCE, RIGOR, FOCUS, OR CLARITY, AND THEIR DEFICIENCIES ARE FULLY ANALYZED IN SEVERAL PUBLISHED PAPERS BELOW. COLEMAN AND HIS ACOLYTES HAVE NEVER ADDRESSED THE CRITICISMS IN THESE PAPERS BECAUSE THEY CAN’T. THEY KNOW THAT CC’S STANDARDS ARE NOT INTERNATIONALLY BENCHMARKED, RESEARCH-BASED, OR COHERENT.

      How Common Core’s ELA standards place college readiness at risk. Mark Bauerlein and Sandra Stotsky. (September 2012), Pioneer Institute White Paper # 89. http://pioneerinstitute.org/download/how-common-cores-ela-standards-place-college-readiness-at-risk/

      Sandra Stotsky. Literature or technical manuals: Who should be teaching what, where, and why? Nonpartisan Education Review/Essays, 2013, 9(1). http://nonpartisaneducation.org/Review/Essays/v9n1.htm

      Common Core’s standards still don’t make the grade. Sandra Stotsky and Ze’ev Wurman. (July 2010). Pioneer Institute White Paper # 65. http://www.pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/common_core_standards.pdf

      National standards still don’t make the grade. Part I: Review of four sets of English language arts
      standards. Sandra Stotsky, Kathleen Madigan, and Ze’ev Wurman. (July 2010). Pioneer Institute White Paper #63. http://www.pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/100719_national_standards_part_I.pdf

      “Based on a quick glance, I think there’s a lot to like about BOTH standard frameworks as BOTH are actually similar in many respects. Both frameworks are rigorous in what they expect from students.”

      COMMON CORE’S ELA STANDARDS CONTAIN NO RIGOR. WHERE DO YOU SEE RIGOROUS STANDARDS AT THE HIGH SCHOOL LEVEL? WHICH ONES?

      “Both are coherent.”

      WHERE DO YOU SEE COHERENCE FROM GRADE TO GRADE IN WHAT IS REQUIRED IN COMMON CORE? COHERENCE LIES IN HOW TOPICS/ TEXTS ARE SEQUENCED FROM GRADE TO GRADE. CC HAS NO COHERENCE FROM GRADE TO GRADE. SEE THE FORDHAM CRITIQUE. SEE THE PIONEER INSTITUTE ANALYSES ABOVE.

      “More specifically, both include separate sections on informational (nonfiction) text that prioritize text features, structures, identification of controlling ideas, and identifying, examining and tracing an author’s use of evidence. While the ALSCW framework does a nice job to identify differences between persuasive and expository texts in the informational text section, the CCSS informational text section seems to do a better job in challenging students to synthesize, compare/contrast and integrate ideas from multiple nonfiction texts. Both frameworks place an emphasis on an author’s use of structures, features, and words to support and amplify meaning in a text. Both frameworks include suggested (or exemplar) texts that draw on both contemporary and classic literature, including the inclusion of foundational documents in both standards’ high school sections. Both prioritize the use of varied informational texts (including in ALSCW’s case “procedural texts or documents (recipes, directions, manuals, schedules, application forms, contracts and other legal documents)”). This inclusion of “procedural texts” has been much maligned in the anti-CCSS commentary, yet it surfaces here as well. Further, Stotsky and others have claimed that the emphasis on informational text has put English teachers in a position to teach that which they are not trained to teach. Doesn’t the ALSCW framework also ask teachers to integrate challenging informational texts in their ELA curriculum and support students in their understanding and analysis of their content? Both also place an emphasis on many process and product-oriented features common to the three different writing types–personal/narrative, expository and argument/persuasion.”

      AS SHEILA BYRD CARMICHAEL ALSO POINTS OUT, ACADEMIC ARGUMENT IS NOT THE SAME AS PERSUASION. IT IS EXPOSITORY WRITING, WHICH IS VERY DIFFERENT FROM PERSUASIVE WRITING. MOREOVER, IN THE ALSCW CURRICULUM FRAMEWORK, NONFICTION IS 1/5 OF THE READING GENRES. POETRY, DRAMA, FICTION, AND CLASSICAL OR TRADITIONAL NARRATIVE COMPRISE 4/5s OF THE READING, IN CONTRAST TO THE 50% MANDATED DIVISION IN COMMON CORE. MOST IMPORTANT, NO SANE ENGLISH OR HISTORY TEACHER WOULD EVER APPROACH A HISTORICAL DOCUMENT WITH A “COLD” READING (NO HISTORICAL CONTEXT), WHICH IS WHAT DAVID COLEMAN HAS GIVEN WORKSHOPS ON TO TEACHERS IN ORDER TO “LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD,” AS HE BIZARRELY IMAGINES COLD READINGS WILL DO.

      “There are a few distinctions worth mentioning. The ALSCW framework separates out certain genres such as poetry and drama, where CCSS either invites teachers to determine how to integrate these genres OR finds ways to integrate specific genre types into the lit and IT standards themselves (e.g. folktales, myths, fairy tales, epic tales, lit from other cultures). So while the organization is slightly different, the focus on these specific genres is still present in both.”

      THE FOCUS/EMPHASIS IS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT, AS EXPLAINED ABOVE. MOREOVER, IN THE ALSCW DOCUMENT, THE GENRE IS NONFICTION (WHICH ENGLISH TEACHERS HAVE ALWAYS TAUGHT), NOT INFORMATIONAL TEXTS, WHICH ENGLISH TEACHERS HAVE NEVER TAUGHT.

      “The ALSCW also includes a separate section on research whereas the CCSS implicates research in the RI/RL.9 reading standards (and writing standards–W.7). I actually like CCSS better in this regard as it makes a subtle connection between the core components of the reading curriculum and short research projects connected to these texts (rather than one long research project done during the middle school years).”

      CCSS SAYS NOTHING ABOUT THE RESEARCH PROCESS, WHICH IS PARAMOUNT TO STUDENT RESEARCH.

      “I also like CCSS’ emphasis on opinion writing in the K-5 years as opposed to ALSCW’s focus on persuasion (grades 1-2 focus on letter writing, which is fine, but opinion writing forges a greater link to core curricular texts).”

      OPINION WRITING IS EXACTLY WHAT COLLEGE INSTRUCTORS DETEST. THE OPINIONS ARE UNINFORMED. THEY FORGE NO SUBSTANTIVE LINK TO CURRICULAR TEXTS, WHICH LITERARY SCHOLARS LIKE GERALD GRAFF (AT THE U OF ILLINOIS/CHICAGO CIRCLE) COMPLAIN ABOUT. STUDENTS CANNOT SUMMARIZE WHAT IS IN THE TEXT THEY HAVE READ AND MAKE ACADEMIC ARGUMENTS.

      “I appreciate Stotsky’s criticisms of the CCSS, but isn’t there some risk that the anti-CCSS crowd is overstating the differences between this and CCSS? (I will say that the 50-50% split of informational text and literary text is a silly inclusion in CCSS. I can see where Stotksy, Ravitch and others object).”

      THERE IS A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A 50/50 DIVISION OF READING INSTRUCTION (ONE/HALF FOR ONE GENRE—INFORMATIONAL TEXT—WHICH ENGLISH TEACHERS ARE NOT TRAINED TO TEACH, NOR CAN TEACH SINCE THE ENGLISH CLASS HAS NEVER HAD A SEQUENCE OF INFORMATIONAL TOPICS FROM GRADE TO GRADE —AND A DOCUMENT THAT IMPLIES CLEARLY THAT 4/5s OF WHAT ENGLISH TEACHERS SHOULD TEACH IS IMAGINATIVE LITERATURE (POETRY, DRAMA, FICTION, AND CLASSICAL LITERATURE).

      “At a minimum, wouldn’t you at least concede that this isn’t a “read ‘em weep” kind of discussion? Can’t we agree that the debate between these frameworks might require some greater sense of nuance?
      I agree that the process used to adopt CCSS was not in line with the long-standing role state educators have been accustomed to having. Of course, when you say that the ALSCW framework is available to any state or district “who has the guts to adopt it,” I assume you mean that this standards framework would be a starting point for any state interested in revising its standards. Otherwise the state would be guilty of the same hasty adoption process you fault them for with CCSS.”

      THERE IS A HUGE DIFFERENCE. STATES THAT ADOPTED COMMON CORE CAN’T CHANGE ONE WORD IN THE STANDARDS. STATES OR SCHOOL SYSTEMS THAT ADOPT A NON-COPYRIGHTED DOCUMENT CAN MAKE THE KINDS OF CHANGES THAT ACHIEVE THEIR OWN IDEA OF EXCELLENCE IN THE LITERATURE THEY CHOOSE TO FOCUS ON IN THE ENGLISH CLASS.

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