Comparison of Oklahoma’s 2007 ELA Standards and Common Core’s ELA Standards
3. The document expects students to read independently through the grades and provides guidance on quality and difficulty.
Students are expected to read independently, and Appendix B provides a list of exemplars of quality and difficulty through the grades. However, we do not know if the titles in grades K-8 were independently vetted by literary experts or who they may have been. Moreover, Common Core suggests that teachers use a cumbersome set of factors to determine “complexity.”
Although the document implies that students are to do wide reading (e.g., a vocabulary standard expects students to “expand vocabulary through wide reading, listening, and discussing”), there is no specific expectation for independent reading or its quality and difficulty.
B. Value of Literary Study
1. The document expects and enables teachers to stress literary study in the ELA class
Nonfiction or informational reading has been weighted almost equally to imaginative literature in ELA at all grade levels—with 10 standards for the former and 9 for the latter at each grade level. This balance augurs a drastic decline in literary study in grades 6-12
English teachers are explicitly directed to increase the number of informational or nonfiction texts they teach. This means fewer opportunities for students to learn how to read between the lines and develop analytical reading and thinking skills.
There are more standards for non-literary study than for literary study in the high school grades when the sub-standards for research and information are included as part of informational reading. Fortunately, English teachers are not expected to teach more informational than literary texts, a change that would diminish opportunities for students to acquire analytical reading/thinking skills.
2. The document and the standards indicate that assigned texts should be chosen on the basis of literary quality, and/or cultural and historical significance.
Excellent advice is given in a sidebar on p. 35 and in Appendix B for selection on the basis of quality and significance. But most standards contain nothing to ensure that teachers or test-makers follow this advice. There are also no criteria for selecting informational or literary texts, nor recommended authors or titles (just exemplars of “complexity” and “quality” at each grade level).
At every grade level from grade 6 on, the general standard for literature explicitly requires students to “read and respond to grade-level-appropriate historically or culturally significant works of literature that reflect and enhance a study of history and social science.” Students are also expected to “clarify ideas and connect them to other literary works.” No lists of recommended authors or works are provided, however, to indicate what some of these historically or culturally significant works are.
3. The standards promote study of American literature
They do so only in two standards in grades 11/12. It is not mentioned in earlier grades where it would be appropriate (e.g., for American folktales or tall tales), and there is no standard on studying authors who were born in or wrote about the state or region.
In grades 9, 10, 11, and 12, the general standard for literature explicitly requires students to “read and respond to grade-level-appropriate historically or culturally significant works of British, American, or world literature.” Students are also expected to “conduct in-depth analysis of themes, styles, and trends of these works across historical periods.” However, no standard at any grade level focuses on American literature and no examples of literary works are given in these grades. Nor do any standards mention study of literary periods in American literature, major writers in the American Renaissance, or writers from or about Oklahoma.