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Shakespeare Aside, Evidence Doesn’t Match Christie’s Claim He Ended Common Core

Task force recommendations call for hundreds of changes, but mostly in wording of questions and not so much in substance

shakespeare

A task force named by the Christie administration to review and revise the standards did indeed call for changing the approach to teaching Shakespeare, making his works more an example of good literature than required reading.

But as consequential as that may seem to some, Christie’s claims of vanquishing the Common Core from New Jersey public schools might seem curious to those reading the actual advisory panel’s recommendations released last week.

Of the more than 200 recommendations, a vast majority seem to focus more on wording than on meaning. For example, many of the recommendations call for adding language requiring students to “make relevant connections” in order to analyze and comprehend the subject matter.

Another favorite recommendation was adding language calling for students to “reflect on (e.g. practical knowledge, historical/cultural context, and background knowledge)” the material.

Some of the recommendations are certainly significant, including those regarding to the teaching of Shakespeare, but others simply clarify arcane language.

But whether this amounts to a rewriting – let alone elimination -- of the Common Core appears dubious, at best.

After all, New Jersey continues to use the new online PARCC testing aligned to the standards, a track backed in a report released last week by a second Christie task force.

Judge for yourself. Following are some before-and-after examples of changes recommended in the task force’s report. The added or changed words are underlined.

Language arts “anchor” standard

From: Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

To: Analyze and reflect on how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

First-grade reading

From: Describe the overall structure of a story, including describing how the beginning introduces the story and the ending concludes the action.

To: Describe the overall structure of a story, including describing how the beginning introduces the story and the ending concludes the action identifying how each successive part builds on earlier sections.

Third-grade reading

From: Distinguish their own point of view from that of the author of a text.

To: Describe the logical connection between particular sentences and paragraphs in a text (e.g., comparison, cause/effect, first/second/third in a sequence) to support specific points the author makes in a text.

Fourth-grade reading

From: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including those that allude to significant characters found in mythology (e.g., Herculean).

To: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including those that allude to significant characters found in literature.

High school reading

From: Analyze multiple interpretations of a story, drama, or poem (e.g., recorded or live production of a play or recorded novel or poetry), evaluating how each version interprets the source text. (Include at least one play by Shakespeare and one play by an American dramatist.)

To: Analyze multiple interpretations of a story, drama, or poem (e.g., recorded or live production of a play or recorded novel or poetry), evaluating how each version interprets the source text. (e.g., Shakespeare and other authors)

Kindergarten math

From: Represent addition and subtraction with objects, fingers, mental images, drawings, sounds (e.g., claps), acting out situations, verbal explanations, expressions, or equations.

To: Represent addition and subtraction up to 10 with objects, fingers, mental images, drawings, sounds (e.g., claps), acting out situations, verbal explanations, expressions, or equations.

Third-grade math

From: Measure areas by counting unit squares (square cm, square m, square in, square ft, and improvised units).

To: Measure areas by counting unit squares (square cm, square m, square in, square ft, and non-standard units).

Seventh-grade math

From: Describe situations in which opposite quantities combine to make 0. For example, a hydrogen atom has 0 charges because its two constituents are oppositely charged.

To: Describe situations in which opposite quantities combine to make 0. For example, in the first round of a game, Maria scored 20 points. In the second round of the same game, she lost 20 points. What is her score at the end of the second round?

High school math

From: Understand the inverse relationship between exponents and logarithms and use this relationship to solve problems involving logarithms and exponents.

To: Use the inverse relationship between exponents and logarithms to solve problems involving exponents and logarithms.

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