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The Daily Dish: Achieving College and Career Readiness with the Common Core

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June 22, 2015 02:19 pm

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The Daily Dish digs deeper into one of the day’s top news stories on K–12 education. Make sure to add High School Soup to your RSS feed for all the latest updates and follow the Alliance on Twitter at @All4Ed for more education news.


The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were developed five years ago in response to mounting evidence and feedback from colleges and universities, employers, and the military that many high school graduates were unprepared for success in college and a career. Now, as many schools across the country have fully implemented the K–12 grade level standards in English and mathematics, schools and districts are working to ensure students truly reach readiness.

In an article for The New York Times, Kate Taylor examines how schools across the country are working to satisfy the CCSS English requirements’ call for more nonfiction reading for students. As Taylor notes, the new standards require that 70 percent of what a 12th grader reads during the day be nonfiction, or “informational.” She adds that the change was included in the standards under the rationale that “…most of what students will be expected to read in college and at work will be informational, rather than literary, and that American students have not been well prepared to read those texts.”

Taylor tells of how teachers are choosing among informational texts such as daily news, the Declaration of Independence, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail” for their lessons, coupling them with literary classics such as The Odyssey and Beowulf.  She explains: “…Along with Romeo and Juliet, for example, students might be assigned readings about Shakespeare’s life or a contemporary magazine article about teenage suicide.”

Taylor says that while most seem to be embracing the change, some teachers and students have pushed back against the inclusion of nonfiction writings. But as Alliance Senior Fellow Robert Rothman noted back in 2012, these changes still allot teachers with freedom over materials while also giving students more of a chance to engage with classmates and real-world scenarios.

Adhering to new English lessons is something most military children are used to. As The Hechinger Report’s Emily Richmond describes in a recent article, “Being uprooted is part of the deal for military families, whose children move an average of six times between kindergarten and high school.” For those students, moving used to mean a whole new set of learning standards. But, as Richmond explains, the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) school system is hoping to change that – adopting the CCSS in 2012. The school system, which educates more than 78,000 children across 12 countries and seven U.S. states, plans to have its College and Career Ready Standards fully implemented by the fall of 2016.

Richmond adds, however, that although DoDEA made moves to ensure smooth transitions for its students, officials still struggle with answering the question: “How do we know if our students are actually being prepared for college and careers?”

The solution to the problem, writes Richmond, is a new system of data collection that allows DoDEA to track “how many of its high school graduates enroll in two- and four-year colleges, whether they stick with school and if they graduate.” But a current amendment to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) currently known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) might preempt DoDEA efforts. Richmond writes that revision to the legislation would require states and school districts to report academic achievements of children from military families. This subgroup has not been accounted for thus far as DoDEA is exempt from NCLB though the school system follows much of the regulations voluntarily. Richmond writes, “Seventeen states have already passed similar legislation, but definitions of what constitutes a child connected to the military vary widely. Consistency will be necessary for the data to be valid and useful.”

 

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