Common Core Expert Sandra Stotsky: Indiana Should Return to 2006 English Language Arts Standards

While Indiana may be the first state to legislatively dump the Common Core standards, the jury is still out on whether the state will simply “rebrand” the nationalized standards, relabeling them with a different name, or make a decided effort to provide Hoosiers with what Gov. Mike Pence (R) refers to as “uncommonly high” standards that are “among the best in the nation.”

Common Core standards expert Dr. Sandra Stotsky, who has been asked by Pence to review his state’s “new” draft of academic standards that may replace the Common Core, told Breitbart News that she informed both Pence and Claire Fiddian-Green, who heads Pence’s standards re-write education agency, the Center for Education and Career Innovation (CECI), that she would not review any draft of standards that looked like Common Core.

“I agreed to review a new draft I was told by Fiddian-Green would be significantly different – Draft #2,” Stotsky said. “When I was sent that draft, I almost fell off my chair. In grades 6-12, it was almost identical to Common Core.”

Stotsky told Breitbart News that she received “a letter from Claire [Fiddian-Green] and Molly [in the Indiana DOE] saying that in THEIR own analysis, over 90% of the grades 6-12 ELA standards were Common Core's.”

According to Stotsky, who developed the highly acclaimed Massachusetts academic standards, she received the following summary from Fiddian-Green on March 17 with the number of “new” standards that are either verbatim or edited versions of the standards that were created as an alternative to the Common Core:

Below is our origin analysis of the K-5 draft standards (Draft #2):

  • In K-5, about 34% of the second draft standards are CCSS with no change, and another 13% are edited CCSS.
  • 6% are Indiana Academic Standards (IAS) unedited, and 4% are IAS edited.
  • The remaining 43% are combined standards or standards from other states.
  • 14% of the draft K-5 standards are verbatim from your model standards, and an additional 6% are your model standards with edits (for a total of 20%).

Below is our origin analysis of the 6-12 draft standards (Draft #2):

  • In 6-12, about 73% of the second draft standards are CCSS with no change, and another 20% are CCSS with edits (that’s a change from before, where 86% were CCSS with no change).
  • 4% are Indiana Academic Standards unedited
  • 3% are combined standards or standards from other states.
  • Please note, because the articulation work leading to Draft #2 was completed separately at K-5 and at 6-12, we believe the 6-12 standards will change quite a bit as the team works this week on the full K-12 articulation.

Stotsky told Breitbart News that these percentages simply supported her impressions that the “new” standards were still very similar to Common Core. She said she wrote back to Fiddian-Green stating that she could not review that draft either.

On Monday, Stotsky said she received a note from Pence that, in her opinion, was “decidedly ambiguous.” The governor’s note, she said, reiterated his goal to create new, high standards for Hoosiers that are written by Hoosiers and invited her to review a future version of the new standards. Pence suggested to Stotsky that she continue to work with Fiddian-Green.

Stotsky provided Breitbart News with her response to Pence on Monday:

As I indicated in my previous letter, I will be quite willing to review a later draft of the English language arts standards if you want me to, so long as the draft meets the conditions you set forth – "uncommonly high, and written by Hoosiers for Hoosiers." That means little resemblance to Common Core's ELA standards. I've been looking at the 2006 Indiana ELA standards, and the high school literature standards in that document stand out as models for the country. The differences between them and what is in Common Core – and Draft #2 – is like the difference between night and day. I hope the drafting committee revisits that document and mines it for the excellent literature standards Indiana English teachers wrote for it.

Stotsky provided Breitbart News with examples from the old Indiana literature standards for Grade 9 from 2006 – referenced in her letter to Pence. “There’s nothing like this in Common Core,” she said. “Notice the texts given as examples.”

READING: Comprehension and Analysis of Literary Text

Students read and respond to grade-level-appropriate historically or culturally significant works of literature, such as the selections in the Indiana Reading List www.doe.state.in.us/standards/readinglist.html) illustrate the quality and complexity of the materials to be read by students.

At Grade 9, students read a wide variety of literature, such as classic and contemporary literature, historical fiction, fantasy, science fiction, folklore, mythology, poetry, short stories, dramas, and other genres.

Structural Features of Literature

9.3.1 Explain the relationship between the purposes and the characteristics of different forms of dramatic literature (including comedy, tragedy, and dramatic monologue). Example: Compare plays with similar themes, such as the theme of prejudice in Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose and The King and I by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II.

9.3.2 Compare and contrast the presentation of a similar theme or topic across genres (different types of writing) to explain how the selection of genre shapes the theme or topic. Example: Consider the theme of the relationship between nature and humans. Read different works on the theme, including a poem praising the beauty of nature (such as John Greenleaf Whittier’s "Snowbound"), a novel in which elements of nature play a large role (such as My Antonia by Willa Cather), or a play (such as Shakespeare’s The Tempest).

Analysis of Grade-Level-Appropriate Literary Text

9.3.3 Analyze interactions between characters in a literary text and explain the way those interactions affect the plot. Example: Discuss the development of the different characters in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations.

9.3.4 Determine characters’ traits by what the characters say about themselves in narration, dialogue, and soliloquy (when they speak out loud to themselves). Example: Read works, such as The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 1334 by Sue Townsend or Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters, and describe the characters, citing specific examples from the text to support this description.

9.3.5 Compare works that express a universal theme and provide evidence to support the views expressed in each work. Example: Analyze and compare selections from Russell Baker’s Growing Up, Ed McClanahan’s Natural Man, and Reynolds Price’s Long and Happy Life as variations on a theme.

9.3.6 Analyze and trace an author’s development of time and sequence, including the use of complex literary devices, such as foreshadowing (providing clues to future events) or flashbacks (interrupting the sequence of events to include information about an event that happened in the past).

“I look forward to the possibility of commenting to you, the Indiana Roundtable, and the staff at the Indiana Department of Education on a set of 'uncommonly high' ELA standards for Indiana teachers and students,” Stotsky concluded in her letter to Pence. “They are within reach.”


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