The Cardinal Newman Society today launched a series of reports on the controversial Common Core State Standards (CCSS) with an eye-opening report by Dan Guernsey, Ed.D., of the National Association of Private Catholic and Independent Schools (NAPCIS).
In “The Naked and Procrustean Common Core,” Guernsey tackles the Common Core’s English language arts standards, which induce schools to place greater emphasis on informational reading instead of classical literary texts. Guernsey criticizes the Common Core’s “sweeping efforts to change the balance” of reading texts, finding no rationale that is “based in research or in real world experience.”
The Newman Society launched its Catholic Is Our Core project to educate key stakeholders in Catholic education—Catholic families, pastors, teachers, principals, superintendents and bishops—about concerns with the Common Core and its potential impact on Catholic education.
By publishing analysis like Guernsey’s report and links to other information and news items at CatholicIsOurCore.org, the Newman Society hopes especially to help parents become more knowledgeable about the Common Core and better fulfill their role as the primary educators of their children.
Guernsey reveals the “faulty data” behind the Common Core’s push for informational reading:
The CCSS justifies this increase of expository text, stating… “…students today are asked to read very little expository text—as little as 7 and 15 percent of elementary and middle school instructional reading, for example, is expository….” Bukins and Yaris (2013) looked at the three research articles mentioned to support this statement: One is not about this topic; one is a practical how to teach piece which only references the statistic, and one looks only at reading instruction texts in use more than 15years ago. Disturbingly the author of that piece, Moss, did a more recent study (2008) of the same topic and found the percentage of informational texts in the readers had increased to 40 percent….
“Misapplied research is being used to advance the ‘real world’ agenda of the Standards writers,” Guernsey concludes.
Another example, he writes, is the misuse of the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) to justify the changed emphasis in reading:
In 2009, scores on that test revealed that students on average did better on their informational text reading (257) than on their literary text reading (253) (Idaho Department of Education, 2013). The scores suggest we should concentrate more on literature, not adding more informational texts to our English classes.
The irony is that the Common Core writers did not use the NAEP scores to guide their national Standards (which is not surprising, since the data doesn’t fit their agenda). Instead they used the NAEP testing description to try to restructure English Language Arts programs [of the CCSS] around the country. Herein lies their second main mistake. Instead of setting the appropriate percentages of literary and informational texts present in a school on research and best practice or test results, they base the percentages on the federal reading test “test description.”
Guernsey concludes that at least one classic work might be relevant to the Common Core Standards writers: Hans Christian Andersen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes.
Such a story might reveal that the Standards writers, like the weavers of the emperor’s fine but invisible clothes that only the enlightened were supposed to be able to see, have made their money, sold their wares, and have left the curriculum naked.
Guernsey’s report was originally published by NAPCIS on October 15, 2013. Additional reports will be published in the next two weeks at CatholicIsOurCore.org.
Catholic Education Daily is an online publication of The Cardinal Newman Society. Click here for email updates and free online membership with The Cardinal Newman Society.