"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Common Core and Voluntary Reading

 Sent to the New York Times, January 23, 2014

Charles Blow's inspirational testimonial ("Reading is fundamental," January 22) in support of reading is supported by mountains of research showing that voluntary reading results in tremendous growth in all areas of literacy.
Is this the same Charles Blow who enthusiastically endorsed the Common Core Standards in the Times a few months ago ("The Common Core and the Common Good," August 21)? Because of its rigid curriculum and constant testing, the Common Core allows very little room for self-selected reading, and insists that children only read material at or above their current reading level.
The common core requires an investment of billions to support online testing. Students living in poverty (23% of children in the US) have little access to books at home or at school. If Mr. Blow is right about reading, we should be investing billions in libraries, not in technology that will be obsolete in a few years.

Stephen Krashen

Voluntary reading and growth in literacy: Krashen, S. (2004). The Power of Reading. Portsmouth: Heinemann and Westport: Libraries Unlimited.

Rigid curriculum: “By underscoring what matters most in the standards, the criteria illustrate what shifts must take place in the next generation of curricula, including paring away elements that distract or are at odds with the Common Core State Standards.” Coleman, David, and Susan Pimentel. 2012 Revised Publishers’ Criteria for the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Literacy, Grades 3–12.  

Constant testing: Krashen, S. 2012. “How Much Testing?” Diane Ravitch’s Blog (July

Read only at or above grade level: Materials for independent reading “need to include texts at students’ own reading level as well as texts with complexity levels that will challenge and motivate students.” (Coleman and Pimental, 2012, p. 7, op. cit.)

Billions to support online testing: Krashen, Stephen, and Susan Ohanian. 2011. “High Tech Testing on the Way: A 21st Century Boondoggle?” Living in Dialogue (Apr 8).  

Percentage of US children living in poverty: UNICEF Office of Research. 2012. Measuring Child Poverty: New League Tables of Child Poverty in the World’s Rich Countries. Innocenti Report Card 10. Florence, Italy: UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre.

Children of poverty and access to books: Krashen, S (2004), op. cit.

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