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“Common Core” Standards And English Language Learners

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I’ve previously shared my skepticism about national standards but they do appear to be becoming a reality. Today, even though studies have shown California standards to be “California’s (English) standards are clearer, more thorough, and easier to read than the Common Core standards,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports that California might adopt them within weeks.

There have been some useful recent posts on the Common Core standards, including “Why almost nobody is writing about the Common Core” (make a point of reading the comments there, too) and The problem(s) with the Common Core standards.

Will National Standards Improve Education? is a forum at the New York Times website, with responses from people like Alfie Kohn and Bruce Fuller.

Mary Ann Zehr has written about how they relate to ELL’s at Standards Organizers Leave English Proficiency to States.

The Common Core Standards (you can find them here) are pretty useless when it comes to English Language Learners. Certainly, the California standards can be helpful to teachers, and I assume our state will keep them.

It’s hard for me to believe that all this effort and money spent on developing new standards couldn’t have been better used on more concrete areas that will actually affect what happens in the classroom — like providing more resources to schools.

What do you think?

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

6 Comments

  1. Great post Larry! At the Boston TESOL conference we had one principal who was very interested in our materials for English learners. She couldn’t stop talking about the standards, though, and warned us that if we didn’t concern ourselves with them that American teachers would not use our materials (because they wouldn’t be allowed). We tried to explain to her that our materials were designed to be used by teachers all over the world, but she insisted we focus on getting them in line with the American standards. We were wondering how ELL’s were supposed to fit in to all of that. Thanks for the links!

  2. I think the Common Core movement is part of a larger misunderstanding about how public education functions. There seems to be a refusal by people outside education, but in policy, to listen to teachers who disagree with them (and still want to participate in helping craft change). I have hope there are dialogues happening, but I’m not seeing it in the products and policies being pushed out.

  3. HI,
    I am wondering how to find common core standards for EFL teaching and if there are different standards for each state

  4. This is an issue in the St. Paul school districts. In my high school, ELL teachers collaborate with content area teachers in classes of mixed ELL and mainstream students. Not a bad idea really, but the unfortunate trade off has been we have cut back on ELL classes for students who have been in the country longer than two years. These ELL students are teenagers when they arrive here in this country from Thai refugee camps where they received limited formal schooling. Someone explain to me how you get teenage immigrants from Asia in less than 4 years to be at a Common Core level equal to their American-born classmates by moving them from sheltered English classes into mainstream co-taught classes. Ludicrous.

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