Remember when we worried about the decline of reading and writing skills?

Mao reads Stalin

Mao reads Stalin

Well no longer – the government now wants to kill those skills off.

Common Core driving fiction from classrooms.

The adoption and implementation of the Common Core State Standards Initiative in more than 40 states around the country since 2010 has wrought two major changes: (1) a notable decrease in the use of fiction and literature in America’s reading and English classes and (2) lower reading and math scores on the U.S. Department of Education-mandated National Assessment of Educational Progress.

The Common Core standards — now instituted in more than 40 states — mandate that nonfiction books constitute at least 70 percent of the texts read by high school students.

The nonfiction-heavy reading regime has forced English teachers nationwide to ditch short stories, poetry and literary classics such as “Huckleberry Finn” and “The Great Gatsby” in favor of dry how-to manuals and dated dispatches from the Federal Reserve.Common Core “is having an impact on the content of reading instruction, moving from the dominance of fiction over nonfiction to near parity in emphasis,” Brookings Institution education policy analyst Tom Loveless wrote last week.

Loveless notes that there is little evidence that the shift toward nonfiction has had any positive effect on the collective reading ability of America’s public school students.

“Reading more nonfiction does not necessarily mean that students will be reading higher quality texts,” Loveless notes.

A list of suggested “informational texts” which have replaced world-class literature in public schools under Common Core includes “Recommended Levels of Insulation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency” and “FedViews” by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

There’s also “Executive Order 13423: Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy and Transportation Management,” a publication of the General Services Administration.*

In 2009, about 36 percent of the material America’s fourth graders were reading was nonfiction. About 25 percent of the material America’s eighth graders were reading was nonfiction. In 2015, under Common Core, the percentages of nonfiction reading material have climbed to 45 percent for fourth graders and 32 percent for eighth graders, according to the Brookings Institution.

As far as test scores, scores under the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) have failed to increase — and possibly decreased — since the implementation of Common Core.

Practice may not make perfect, but it can improve skills. Instilling a love of reading in (admittedly, “some”) students will encourage them to spend more time reading and therefore, practicing. As for writing skills, the color and forcefulness of words is learned by reading what skillful writers do with them: As Mark Twain wrote, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug”.

Today’s students will have no longer heard of Twain, let alone read him.

  • Sample:

    (b) implement within the agency environmental management systems (EMS) at all appropriate organizational levels to ensure (i) use of EMS as the primary management approach for addressing environmental aspects of internal agency operations and activities, including environmental aspects of energy and transportation functions, (ii) establishment of agency objectives and targets to ensure implementation of this order, and (iii) collection, analysis, and reporting of information to measure performance in the implementation of this order;

15 Comments

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15 responses to “Remember when we worried about the decline of reading and writing skills?

  1. weakleyhollow

    Well, holy sh*t. This does make sense, if you account for the fact that these standards were developed by teachers, and you correct for the quality of teachers in our public school systems today. Also, eliminating great literature removes “dead cis Christian males'” works, which is an important achievement for the left wing mohrons in charge. ‘Nuf said.

  2. There are two major factors contributing to the decline of public education that no one wants to discuss — 1) many of he students are stupider because there are fewer whites and more Hispanics, and 2) the teachers are stupider because most people with education degrees are below below the college average for SAT scores (a rough proxy for intelligence.)

  3. Women’s lib is mostly responsible for the decline in student performance. i support[ed] women’s lib, but one of the unintended consequences is that women have many other options today, so fewer high achievers become teachers — they are lawyers [ugh?] and physicians and MBA consultants and bankers. The teachers are comprised of motivated committed lovers of children [yeah] and those who had no hope of getting into law school or med school or a good MBA program. No easy fix.

  4. Women’s lib is mostly responsible for the decline in student performance. i support[ed] women’s lib, but one of the unintended consequences is that women have many other options today, so fewer high achievers become teachers — they are lawyers [ugh?] and physicians and MBA consultants and bankers. The teachers are comprised of motivated committed lovers of children [yeah] and those who had no hope of getting into law school or med school or a good MBA program. No easy fix.

  5. Walt

    Dude –
    People are easier to control the more stupider they are. Just sayin.
    Your Pal,
    Walt

  6. Reading? Sparky Sweets PhD takes care of all my Thug Notes needs:

  7. Math scores ain’t no betta:

    @nytimes: Just 63 percent of high school students passed a New York State algebra exam, so officials might make the exam easier

    Yea, there’s the answer. Dumb down all the tests. Holy cow.

    • The tests truly are screwed up and some are absurdly hard. My daughter has always been an A student in math, scored in 94th percentile on the last state test and just passed. Quite a few of the questions were flawed in one way or another – lacking all of the data needed to answer it, not showing the correct answer as a choice, etc.

      These tests are being tested on our students.

      • So what goes a parent do? How do you resolve the flaws in the exam? Are your daughter’s math teachers in agreement with your assessment?

        • A parent learns not to get too worked up about the results of the screwed up tests. And you can’t resolve the flaws in the tests. The mad scientists in Albany have to do that.

          And my daughter is considered gifted in math. Her teacher told us that she’s going to nominate her for the Math Honor Society when she starts High School next year.

          We’ve opted both kids out of the common core testing but they still have to take the state exams, which used to be called the Regents.

        • EOS, in case I misunderstood you, the math teachers all think the tests are a disaster. They’re trying to find some way to write their own.

  8. I haven’t seen this at all. For 10th grade English my son has been reading Sherlock Holmes, To Kill a Mockingbird and various other works of fiction. I haven’t seen him reading any non fiction at all in English, and it’s definitely a common core curriculum class.

  9. Gnawbone

    Two words: Home School