A Pedagogical Divide on Common Core in Reading

By Anthony Rebora — March 08, 2012 1 min read
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In an Education Week Commentary, Joanne Yatvin, a past president of the National Council of Teachers of English, argues that the Common Core State Standards in language arts, with their emphasis on informational texts and building content knowledge, are overly academic for students in the early grades:

For young children, the focus on academic vocabulary seems strange. At this time in their development, would it not be more sensible for children to learn words connected to their everyday lives and their interests rather than to things and experiences as yet unknown?

In a blistering rebuttal, the Core Knowledge Foundation’s Robert Pondiscio says that the emphasis on broadening students’ knowledge base is precisely what the common standards get right:

News flash: It's precisely the lack of coherent background knowledge—the kind of taken-for-granted knowledge of the world, and the gains in vocabulary that accompany it—that is holding back reading comprehension and language growth among our most disadvantaged children. This is something that CCSS nails, emphatically and correctly. If you're not building background knowledge, you're not teaching reading.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.