3rd grade Literacy Instruction: College Ready or Toxicity and Disorder?

We need to give a big THANK YOU to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).  SBAC has released the long anticipated descriptors for college readiness in Language Arts and Mathematics.  Elementary teachers can at last breathe easily.  No more need to wonder.

In language arts … 3rd grade students who score at the lowest level … “be able to rely on limited research/inquiry methods to produce a perfunctory or unpersuasive explanation of a topic.” To reach the level 2 threshold, a student should be able to “rely on research/inquiry methods to produce an overgeneralized or inconsistent explanation of a topic.” Level 3 would require him to use research to “explore a topic and analyze findings in a reasonable and thorough exploration of a topic.” Scoring at level 4 would require using research “as a way to engage with a topic; [students] analyze, integrate, and present findings in a persuasive and sustained exploration of a topic.

Now I’m sure some of you anti-reform, low standard type of status quo educators probably think that SBAC has set the bar just a little high for 3rd graders.  Well get over yourselves.  If you can’t get third graders to use research to “analyze, integrate and present findings in a persuasive and sustained exploration of a topic” then what the hell are you doing in the classroom?

My guess is that you’re probably thinking that asking eight and nine year olds to display the skills of an associate level Ph.D. might be raising the bar a little too high.  I’m sure your also wondering (foolishly) where you will find time to expose your children to fictional literature with rich language and imaginative and creative illustrations—children’s literature.  Stop wondering!

The entire exposure to rich children’s literature is obviously a waste of time.  Eight year olds are only 10 years away from college.  No time for fluff.  These children need to “read to learn.” And reading profoundly engaging fiction is just a waste of time.  All that research on children’s acquisition of literacy skills was obviously just propaganda designed to hold children back and deny America a population of college-ready, sustained integrators and analyzers of topics of real importance.

I know, I know. Most of you literacy people will claim that the removal of rich literature experiences for eight and nine year olds creates a toxic environment for actually learning.  But what would you know?  You had to get a Ph. D. to use research to “analyze, integrate and present findings in a persuasive and sustained exploration of a topic.”


Follow Timothy D. Slekar on Twitter: www.twitter.com/slekar

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