The Common Core’s emphasis on independent mastery of complex informational text puts weaker and learning disabled readers at a severe disadvantage.
The Common Core also presumes that the information our students will need to analyze and interpret in the future while “on the job” will be primarily in a text-based format.
Critical reading and thinking skills are very important, but I do not believe they trump or supersede the equally if not more important “soft skills” that help students to succeed and overcome the real “tests’ in life.
Unfortunately, slow learning, at-risk, and learning disabled students are too often scheduled into additional remedial and intervention classes to focus on their below grade-level reading skills at the expense of enrichment courses and even technical/vocational programs that develop the equally, if not more important, non-academic soft skills.
The decision to schedule remedial classes for students must be made carefully and thoughtfully on an individual basis taking into account the learning style of a particular student. Many students’ academic and content area skills will improve if they were given the opportunity to enroll in a hands-on trade or vocational program…
“Math used to be a struggle for 14-year-old Kathryn, until she fell in love with cars and started a hands-on project to build her own. Now the math matters and makes sense, and a whole new world of learning has opened up for her.”
Emotional intelligence often “equals the playing field” and helps adults to lead productive and very successful lives in spite of weaker reading or writing skills…
“…But what has become obvious—as evidenced by the sheer number of dyslexic World Economic Forum attendees in Davos and by plenty of research—is not only that dyslexics can be, and often are, brilliant, but that many develop far superior abilities in some areas than their so-called normal counterparts…What those highly accomplished people wanted to discuss, albeit discreetly, was their reading ability, or, more accurately, the difficulty they have reading—one of the telltale symptoms of the disorder…”
A 2002 survey of employers in NY State also revealed the importance of “soft skills”…
And a more recent NY Times interview with Google VP Laszlo Bock confirmed the same thing…
“One of the things we’ve seen from all our data crunching is that G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless — no correlation at all except for brand-new college grads, where there’s a slight correlation…What’s interesting is the proportion of people without any college education at Google has increased over time as well. So we have teams where you have 14 percent of the team made up of people who’ve never gone to college…After two or three years, your ability to perform at Google is completely unrelated to how you performed when you were in school, because the skills you required in college are very different. You’re also fundamentally a different person. You learn and grow, you think about things differently. Another reason is that I think academic environments are artificial environments. People who succeed there are sort of finely trained, they’re conditioned to succeed in that environment…”
Even PARCC the consortium creating the new Common Core assessments has acknowledged the critical importance of these non-academic skills…
“A comprehensive determination of college and career readiness that would include additional factors such as these [persistence, motivation, and time management] is beyond the scope of the PARCC assessments in ELA/literacy and mathematics…..Since these non-academic factors are so important, PARCC College- and Career-Ready Determinations can only provide an estimate of the likelihood that students who earn them have the academic preparation necessary to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing courses.” ~ PARCC Policy Paper 10/25/12 pgs 2-3
People should not be surprised that Pearson a large publishing corporation is spear heading the education reform movement that claims ALL STUDENTS must be able to independently comprehend complex college-level informational text by graduation in order to be successful in college and careers.
Considering the wide range of skills and abilities/disabilities students possess, and the fact that students learn in different ways and at different speeds, this is not a developmentally appropriate standard…but it certainly is a very profitable one for Pearson.
Here’s an idea, what if every school adopted a dual career and college readiness mandate?
The first mandate would be to improve every students independent reading, writing, and math skills during each year of school and to help every student make significant strides towards and in many cases surpass college level skills by the time they graduate high school.
The second mandate would be to provide courses and programs that would equip EVERY STUDENT with advanced social and emotional skills to help them overcome and compensate for any learning disabilities and academic weaknesses they may have upon graduation.