LJWorld.com weblogs First Bell
Anyone can read the Common Core standards; here they are
State Rep. Willie Dove, R-Bonner Springs, who is leading an effort to nullify the Common Core state standards for reading and math, is now denying he ever told the Journal-World that he hasn't read them.
At least that's what the Wichita Eagle is reporting in a story posted on that newspaper's website today. The story gives no indication that Dove now claims he actually has read them — only that he believes he was misquoted by the Journal-World.
For the record, Dove did say those exact words, which were recorded in a taped interview conducted on the floor of the Kansas House around 11 a.m. Friday, Feb. 14.
Since that story was published, Dove has apparently come under some intense criticism, a sample of which is reflected in the reader comments that were posted online. Many people seem surprised that he would initiate legislation to repeal standards that he himself has not even read.
But in the maelstrom that has surrounded the Common Core debate, that actually is not unusual. Many of the people who have spoken out against the standards during "citizens open forum" times at the Kansas State Board of Education have made similar comments. They either have no particular objection to the content of the standards, or haven't even read them. But they do object to the process that was used to bring them about — and especially the after-the-fact efforts by the Obama administration to encourage, or even pressure, states into adopting them.
So, for the benefit of anyone else who hasn't yet seen them, but would like to, here they are. And they are not that difficult to understand:
The standards describe what students should know and be able to do by the end of each grade.
In English language arts, for example, the standards cover reading skills for both literature and informational text; writing skills; and speaking and listening. They say that by the end of fourth grade, a student should be able to "explain major differences between poetry, drama and prose, and refer to the structural elements of poems (e.g., verse, rhythm, meter) and drama (e.g., casts of characters, settings, descriptions, dialog, stage directions) when writing or speaking about a text."
Examples of reading material appropriate for students in fourth and fifth grade include Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Carl Sandberg's poem "Fog." By middle school, students should be reading and understanding books like Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women." And by high school, they should be up to books like John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath."
Those are examples, mind you. The material suggested does not constitute a Common Core "required reading list."
In math, the standards suggest that kindergartners learn to count, at least up to 19 to gain the foundation for place values. By third grade, they should start doing basic multiplication and division. And by fifth grade they should start developing fluency with fractions.
The Kansas State Board of Education adopted those standards in October 2010. This spring will be the first time Kansas students will take state assessments aligned to those standards.