This week, I have another post on the Core Knowledge Blog, this one about the Common Core, complex text, and teaching reading strategies. It seems that some Common Core advocates are operating on the assumption that complex text is something you can explicitly teach kids to read. I see this as the same old reading strategies approach to literacy that hasn't been fruitful with the current reading standards. Until we change how we approach developing literacy (beyond decoding) differently, struggling readers will continue to struggle, no matter the standards:
Although I’ve been critical of the Common Core Standards, that they focus on reading strategies was not one of my criticisms; to the contrary, that they emphasized content knowledge, a greater study of literature, and more and more complex writing were selling points. But this account makes the Common Core ELA Standards sound as if they areskill-heavy, or at least that teachers are being guided to implement them as if they were. The problem is you can’t really teach something like “text complexity” any more than you can teach something like the “main idea.” Just because the texts are more “complex” doesn’t make using them in the place of simpler texts a superior approach or any different from the reading strategies approach. Apart from the acknowledgement that all teachers have to teach vocabulary (agreed), there’s no nod to background knowledge or context in Headden’s post. And even teaching vocabulary doesn’t do much good if it’s taught in isolation, though certainly explicitly teaching the meaning of morphemes can help students to build and make meaning of vocabulary.
Read all of it.