Wednesday, November 04, 2015

#CommonCore reading from TESOL Quarterly II

Continues from this post. 

Bunch et al (2014) posit that texts are graded according to the Common Core by quantitative (sentence length & word counts), qualitative (structure, levels of meaning, "language conventionality and clarity", and knowledge demands). But these measures must be alongside the reader's background/identity and the task they need to perform with the text. 

They distinguish text complexity (the quantitative & qualitative measures) from difficulty (which takes into account the reader and the task), and also include accessibility to reference the necessary pedagogic supports. 

The CCSS note the gap between abilities on leaving high school and those expected when starting university, (p542), but, (per Pearson, 2013)“What makes us think that by raising the expectations ... we will all meet the challenge?” (p13) which is rather neat way of approaching all English Language (or any other) "Standards". 

Pedagogy should always come first when considering text-difficulty. That is, how can we scaffold complex texts to make them accessible? 

Discussion of original>simplified>elaborated texts for L2 readers (pp545-6) is useful. As is discussion of scaffolding strategies 546-51.

Overall, what is interesting about Bunch et al is in contrast to (e.g.) Tienken, (when considered from the point of view of being critical with the literature) is the way the subject at hand is engaged with. 

Bunch et al note the Standard's shortcomings, (e.g. the attainment gap is not really satisfied by introduction of standards per se), but deal with the situation as it is. Tienken, on the other hand, makes a couple of good points about the CCSS (e.g. the lack of trialing and validation) but he clearly has an agenda, and apart from criticism, he declines to engage with them in any way. 

Which is fair enough, but often the point of a journal article for the reader (including those who are going to cite the article) is often not the same as the writers'. E.g. Bunch et al's discussion of providing scaffolding for L2 text comprehension is interesting in itself, quite apart from its relationship with the CCSS, (a persuasive obiter dicta, as a lawyer would have it). 

Bunch, G., Walqui, A., & Pearson, P. (2014). Complex Text and New Common Standards in the United States: Pedagogical Implications for English Learners. TESOL Q, 48(3), 533-559.

Pearson, P. D., & Hiebert, E. H. (2013). Understanding the Common Core State Standards. In L. Morrow, T. Shanahan, & K. K. Wixson (Eds.), Teaching with the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts: What educators need to know, Grades PreK-2 (pp. 1–21). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Tienken, C. (2012). The Common Core State Standards: The Emperor Is Still Looking for His Clothes. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 48(4), 152-155.