|Issue Number 27||
These standards will be research and evidence-based, internationally
benchmarked, aligned with college and work expectations and include
rigorous content and skills.
English Language Arts Standards
The proposed English Language Arts Standards are broken into three categories:
me, that looks straightforward enough. We want students to learn to
communicate effectively using oral and written language. But, “the
devil is in the details.” The Reading component includes a list of 13
things that students are supposed to learn to do. I like to read such
lists and think about how qualified I am in the various areas listed.
For example, you are a literate adult, and likely you read a lot. Think about how well you do in the areas:
chuckled when I read the first two items, as I doubt that I would get a
good grade in these areas. I was particularly pleased to see the third
bulleted item listed above. It acknowledges the importance of learning
to be a critical consumer of online materials.
In any event, think about the challenge of setting explicit valid, reliable, and fair levels of accomplishment for such standards. And, what about individual differences in student intelligence, cognitive development, culture, interests, and so on. Wow! No wonder education is such a challenging field!
Here are a couple of the items from the detailed list of Writing Standards that suggest the developers of the standards have some insight into Information Age technology.
the reading and writing lists do not provide standards for reading and
writing in interactive, multimedia modes (such as reading and writing
interactive Web materials). I think that this represents a major flaw
in the proposed standards.
The proposed mathematics standards are broken into 11 categories: 1) Mathematical Practice; 2) Number; 3) Quantity; 4) Expressions; 5) Equations; 6) Functions; 7) Modeling; 8) Shape; 9) Coordinates; 10) Probability; and 11) Statistics.
Notice the differences between the 3-topic Language Arts list and the 11-topic Mathematics list. We all have relatively good insight into the meaning of reading, writing, speaking, and listening. They are descriptors of “doing” language arts. Most of us have relatively poor insight into the meaning or purpose of the 11 items in the mathematics list. The list provides us no clues about what one might “do” in mathematics.
I am reminded of the report card my school used when I was in the first grade. One of the boxes that could be checked indicated, “Reads widely with understanding.” In a written comment, my teacher said, “Now that we have started on numbers, David really shines.” I understand what it means to read widely with understanding. I wonder whether when it came to numbers, I was a bright light or perhaps I glowed in the dark?
In any event, I eventually earned a doctorate in mathematics. It is not surprising that I explored with considerable curiosity the 11 item list given above. Quoting material from the item 2 (Numbers) discussion, here is a question for you. Do you know and understand the following Core Concepts?
is an example of an attempt at standards development that makes me
laugh and cry at the same time. We are going to improve our math
education system by making sure that all students learn the meaning of
these four assertions at some specified level? I imagine that you just
cannot function well in your adult life without making routine use of
these four assertions.
The fourth bulleted item suggests to me that the writer is probably thinking about paper and pencil computational algorithms, and is ignoring a more general definition of this important idea in math and the fact that calculators and computers can carry out such algorithms very rapidly and very accurately.
The Mathematics Standards contain some good summary statements. Here is one that appeals to me. Read it and try to decide whether you would qualify as a mathematically proficient student. Also, think about how one might be able to quantify various levels of math proficiency and assess by use of multiple choice tests!
The proposed Math Standards seem weak on math modeling and they fail to incorporate the basic ideas of Computational Thinking (http://iae-pedia.org/Computational_Thinking) and Two Brains are Better than One (http://iae-pedia.org/Two_Brains_Are_Better_Than_One).
I am disappointed by the proposed standards. It is not at all clear to me that widespread acceptance of and enforcement of these standards will improve our educational system.
About Information Age Education, Inc.
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