Reinterpreting the CCSS

Light bulb changing from old to new.What might happen if educators took interpretation of the Common Core State Standards into their own hands?

That is the question explored in an article entitled “Rewriting the Common Core State Standards for Tomorrow’s Literacies” by Jessica Van Cleave and Sarah Bridges-Rhoads in the latest issue of English Journal.

Do check out the full article, but here are some excerpts:

“We want to emphasize that the standards movement is not just a narrative thrust upon educators from above but also is a narrative that can and must be rewritten each day in our classrooms.”

The authors explain that the same attitudes we ask our students to adopt in approaching texts apply with the Common Core:

“When we understand language as partial, never neutral, and contextually dependent, we can ask alternative questions that invite collaborative explorations of the CCSS rather than questions that incite disagreements over its meaning . . . . We suggest that having conversations [with colleagues] guided by the question, ‘What if we read the CCSS as . . .?’ allows the CCSS to remain relevant to any cultural, historical, or technological movement in which it is put to work . . . .The shift from seeking the truth to continuously producing truth in conjunction with others, then, invites constant re-imagining of the CCSS.”

This approach makes it possible to see what some consider an outdated emphasis on the teaching of Shakespeare as an opportunity instead to explore via technology the many ways Shakespeare “circulates in the multiple environments in which we work and live.”

And while it appears the CCSS prioritize print-based text, the authors suggest “What if we read text as print-based text and digital text and multimedia text and  . . .  including a list of ands every time we encounter the word text in the CCSS renders the standards unfinished and allows them to remain relevant regardless of the historical moment.”

The point behind this shift in approach, the authors argue, is that “changing conversations about the CCSS away from battles between the right and wrong way to read them and towards questions of what possible readings we might enact, presents an opportunity to shift how the history of the CCSS progresses from here.”

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