The draft of the new national standards, referred to as the Common Core Standards, was published by the U.S. Department of Education on March 10, 2010. Appendix A of the standards makes a case for text mastery similar the one I have been advocating for the last decade. The research finally supports the primacy of text and independent reading in the K-12 classroom. Below is the first paragraph of the Appendix summarizing the research:

One of the key requirements of the College and Career Readiness Standards for Reading is that all students must be able to comprehend texts of steadily increasing complexity as they progress through school; by the time they complete the core, students must be able to read independently the kinds of complex texts commonly found in college and careers. The first part of this section makes a research-based case for why the complexity of what students read matters. In brief, while reading demands in college, workforce training programs, and life in general have held steady or increased over the last half century, K–12 texts and reading tasks have actually declined in sophistication, leaving a serious gap between many high school seniors’ reading ability and the reading requirements they face after graduation. The second part of this section addresses how text complexity can be measured and made a regular part of instruction. It introduces a three-part model that blends qualitative and quantitative measures of text complexity with reader and task considerations. The section concludes with several annotated examples showing how the model can be used to assess the complexity of various kinds of texts appropriate for different grade levels. (p. 1)



The real challenge for educators is how to accomplish this. How do you accomplish the goal of graduating a college and career-ready student who can independently read and master post-secondary text? I assert that pedagogical practices advocated in teacher-training programs and teacher-support programs like BTSA, while supposedly supported by the latest brain research and promulgated by McRel and other professional communities, will not get the job done. We need a paradigm shift in the way we hold students accountable for content area mastery. We have to accept the view that how a student learns is just as important as what he learns. In other words, building critical reading skills is at least as important as acquiring secondary content.

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