The Not So Surprising Findings in Fordham Institute’s Survey of ELA Teachers

Photo credit: Vanessa Bazzano (CC-By-NC-ND 2.0)

The Fordham Institute released Reading and Writing Instruction in America’s Schools, authored by Fordham’s senior research and policy associate David Griffith and FDR Group’s Ann Duffett that looked at how Common Core’s ELA standards were being implemented in the classroom. They surveyed 1,200 ELA teachers and this survey follows-up one they released in 2013.

As a reminder, Fordham was paid by the Gates Foundation to push Common Core.

I wanted to highlight a couple of their findings, related to the “third shift” they mention in their report – “Building knowledge through content-rich curriculum.”

This is something Fordham said Common Core would accomplish, but according to their own survey it’s not happening.

Teachers are assigning less fiction.

Gee, who could not see that coming?

They write:

Between 2012 and 2017, the percentage of time that teachers reported devoting to fiction decreased (from 54 percent to 41 percent) as they moved toward some combination of literary nonfiction and informational texts—especially at the middle and high school levels. In general, the trend toward more informational texts is consistent with the third shift. However, teachers also report that they are assigning fewer “classic works of literature”—a concerning development.

I find it amusing they are concerned by this development when they should have known because they were warned it would happen.

Most teachers say content knowledge is getting slighted.

They write:

Overall, 56 percent of ELA teachers say that “not enough” attention has been paid to “building students’ general knowledge,” 46 percent say their curricular materials “do a poor job of building students’ general knowledge,” and almost one-third report that students’ general knowledge has gotten worse in recent years. These results are particularly troubling given that teachers also report moving away from fiction and toward more informational texts. What sort of information is in those texts, if they aren’t making students more knowledgeable?

Again, this is not surprising as Common Core emphasizes skills not content.

Writing instruction needs attention.

They write:

There’s a place for creative and narrative writing, but high school students in particular need to know how to construct a coherent argument based on their analysis of one or more texts. So it’s worrying that more teachers say students’ ability to “write well-developed paragraphs or essays” has worsened (36 percent) than say it has improved (27 percent) compared to a few years ago. Similarly, 46 percent say students’ ability to “use correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling” has declined in recent years, while just 14 percent say it has improved.

Again, none of this is shocking to us. We noted a weakness in the writing standards as well.

Read the survey:

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2 thoughts on “The Not So Surprising Findings in Fordham Institute’s Survey of ELA Teachers

  1. Survey after survey finds Common Core does not have any justification.
    If one takes the time to really investigate, walk the walk…and you will see many have abandoned the ills of it and have gone back to what needs to be taught. What ever happened to aligning the curriculum with the Arts and Sciences? We all know how when one is given the opportunity to explore beyond the classroom walls, strong connections are made.

    Summer is a good time to explore your community with your children or in groups.
    Visit the library, the museum, the Arts Centers. Attend music events and various fairs to see the diversity presented across the state.

    Grab various newspapers and travel guides to learn about various areas.

    Find books on bugs, gardening and birds.
    Learn about rocks.
    Have scavenger hunts.
    Catch fireflies.
    Volunteer somewhere.
    Help a neighbor.
    For these are the true ways we learn.
    So many things to do, FREE.
    Do so today, instead of worrying if a particular standard is met.
    I have…and it has made all the difference in my life.

  2. All that the CC ELA standards have done is make kids hate reading and deprived them of writing skills. Things I HATE about the standards:
    Close Reading
    Endless annotation of novels (it takes months to “read” a novel!)
    Informational texts ad nauseum
    Clearly biased informational texts with no counter text
    Informational texts used in ALL classes…not just ELA and some clearly biased in SS and Sci
    No spelling instruction
    No/or very little vocabulary
    Grammar packets galore! boy, they are fun…NOT!
    The god awful 5 paragraph essay!

    But Fordham will keep on propping up the standards as long as Gates is willing to throw money their way.

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