kitchen table math, the sequel: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.2

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.
English Language Arts Standards » Reading: Literature » Grade 11-12

Assuming this means what I think it means, I am not seeing the value of Standard CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.2.

Off the top of my head, it strikes me that a work of literary nonfiction sufficiently sophisticated to be amenable to "thematic analysis" is going to be quite difficult for most students to read and comprehend, let alone identify not one but two themes, and analyze how the two themes interact and build on one another to produce a complex account, providing an objective summary of the text in the process.

(And does an objective summary of a text ever involve extended analysis of themes?)


In nonfiction?

I'm sure essays have themes (they must, right?), but I don't personally think of essays as having themes. I think of essays as having arguments. Arguments and evidence.

I have no idea what this standard means.

Or what a successful analysis of the way two themes interact and build on each other to produce a complex account would look like.

School is going to be so not fun if teachers actually try to teach these things.


rstanton said...

This is the standard that covers nonfiction. It's got the same number except there is an I instead of an L.
And it omits the word "theme."

Determine two or more central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to provide a complex analysis; provide an objective summary of the text.

The high number of English standards is due to many such small differences. Each standard has a bunch of cousins. I get confused all the time.

SteveH said...

In high school, teachers won't create new lesson plans to meet the standards. They will just map the standards to what they already do. It's easy because the standards are so vague. Once test results come out for a particular test, courses will change only in areas where it might help get more students over the minimum proficiency level, and I'm sure that will be pretty low and won't include any changes to how a teacher approaches thematic analysis for kids easily over the minimum. Then again, if the test includes the usual sort of holistic questions, it will be impossible to figure out what to fix. Our lower schools once had a drop in their "problem solving" score. At the meeting I was at, it was decided to spend more time on ... problem solving.

Our high school had a NECAP (our state test soon to give way to PARCC) celebration cookout for all of the juniors because the results were so good. This means that the number getting to the proficiency level in math is over 60% and increasing. That cutoff is stinking low. Note that all school results only refer to the minimum cutoff level, not the average or the number who get top scores. They don't care about improving those numbers.

These tests are more concerned about low cut-off averages rather than individuals. It's a very bad way to improve schools, but for all of the students over that minimum, it will be business as usual.

momof4 said...

If schools really wanted to improve the quality of their programs and increase the focus on content knowledge across the disciplines, they could simply use the Core Knowledge (or Classical) curriculum and Singapore Math - which already have standards, content and assessment done. They've also been used successfully in a number of schools (IIRC, there are 12 CK schools in Brooklyn which outperform their peers). Of course, there wouldn't be equal outcomes, because kids actually have to master certain knowledge and skills.

froggiemama said...

Of course nonfiction writing can have a theme - perhaps thesis might be a more familiar way of phrasing it? Think of anything written by Jared Diamond, for example. Or one of my favorites, The Embarrassment of Riches by Simon Schama, the title of which is a play on the theme of the book.