Blog: The Educated Reporter

Susan Neuman on the Common Core Standards for English

English Standards

The English and Language Arts portion of the Common Core State Standards depend on time and patience. The standards go deeper but require more from the teacher, and not necessarily in obvious ways, says Susan Neuman, a professor of literacy at New York University who helped implement No Child Left Behind and Reading First as an assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Education.

A teacher following the guidelines of common core is likely to spend more time with her students on the features of the text, like the glossary, index or footnotes. The teacher will also spend more time preparing students for grade-appropriate reading material, which means a fifth grader reading at a lower grade level will still be assigned fifth grade-level material.

There’s a science behind the Common Core English standards, Neuman said during an EWA webinar on Sept. 25. Children develop knowledge through text. The harder the text, the more the student will learn.

Other highlights:

  • To get to levels of deeper meaning, teachers will have to spend less time explaining what students are reading and expect them to discover the details of the text on their own.
  • Citing evidence within text, relying less on personal impressions and more on evidence and themes found in the reading material will require more patience and time from teachers and parents. The text itself will be harder, with more challenging vocabulary.
  • The trick is to make sure the tougher material is taught within the right context, Neuman says. Advanced vocabulary lists should be tied to specific text, Neuman says.
  • In general, more will be asked of teachers at the lower grades.
  • The long term goal is to help students turn into their own research librarians by relying on additional texts and probing the reading material in new ways.
  • Neuman believes teachers by and large don’t understand the intent of the common core.
  • Neuman and Schmidt say that socioeconomic factors contribute to the varied comprehension among rich and poor students; having tough standards for all is the moral route, but standards can’t teach themselves

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