In our post Sh*t that People Say about the Common Core, Part 2 , we poked fun at some of the misinformation circulating about the Common Core. We chided those who say things like “It took us two weeks to closely read that paragraph” and “Now that the Common Core is here, we don’t have time to do independent reading.” But all kidding aside, if people are saying such things, somewhere along the line someone misunderstood the Common Core. How does this happen? you ask. Isn’t the Common Core too important a document for misinterpretation? In fact, this is the case, with the potential consequence being that we will have no way of measuring the Common Core’s impact on student learning.
So how does one come to believe that close reading means sticking with the same text for weeks at a time or that implementing the Common Core means that there is no longer time for independent reading? One possible explanation returns us to the childhood game of telephone where a message is whispered from one player’s ear to another. The fun of the game is waiting to hear how a sentence like “Let’s ask mom if we can pitch a tent and sleep outside” is twisted and distorted into something like “Let’s ask mom to itch the elephant’s teeth outside.” This is sort of what has happened with information about the Common Core. Because the standards are still so new, school officials and leaders have been tapping a variety of resources to fill their own gaps in understanding. As administrators learn new information, they convey it to faculty and staff members. Our leaders make their best attempts to deliver accurate messages and understandings; however, some of the information inevitably gets lost in translation.
While the game of telephone is partly responsible for some of the “he said-she said” surrounding the Common Core, this is not the only culprit. In the next couple of posts, we will explore other possible explanations for the pervasive misunderstandings of the standards.