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?
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.
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.
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: