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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

CC — Why We All Need to Pay Attention

Here’s an interesting piece from further inside the world of education: Apparently there has been some debate among experts on how much change the Common Core standards actually represent — how much of a shift from current state standards in Math and Language Arts. This review by a qualified team of academics argues that it is a substantial shift — and evaluates the shift as possibly good, but in many ways unknown. The key point for authors, teachers, parents, librarians is that the ground is shifting.
The potential “good” as the article in the link above argues is that the new standards require more and deeper thinking — less rote, less memorization, more writing. This is as advertised, it is what the CC claims to do. This is what many of us found lacking in the testing-oriented regime. The challenge, though, is that what we are asking students to learn, teachers to teach, and schools to value is shifting in a mjaor way.
While the article above does not say this, I do have some concern about that. One of the big problems with NCLB, it seems to me, was this mammoth effort to change everything, to make sure 100% of kids had certain skills by a given date. That bulldozer may have been well intentioned but it destroyed a great deal in the effort to fix real problems. And there is the danger that CC, well intentioned and smart as it is, may wind up being another bulldozer — lasting only as long as Congress agrees to it, before then next road crew comes in.

We all need to know CC and how it relates to the schools we deal with — as parents, as authors, as teachers, as librarians. But we also need to be educated citizens — and not tear down the trees to build up a parking lot.


  1. Keely Houck says:

    I have seen this shift in the Common Core Standards and I too am concerned. It seems to me that there needs to be a balance between the basics and the higher level thinking skills that our students need, because one cannot be present without the other. To borrow a metaphor, “we cannot throw the baby out with the bath water”

  2. Marc Aronson says:

    Or to put it yet another way — that Mary Ann and Myra have emphasized — it is great to aim for higher level skills, but teachers have to be trained in how to inculcate them; in particular, if they are asked to teach NF as language arts literacy, they themselves need to understand what makes NF literature — which, of course, means teachers must talk with librarians. That is a connection that takes place all too infrequently.