My second comment regarding the Maine Learning Results / Common Core State Standards deals with the loss of focus on literature in high school English Language Arts classrooms. My five years experience teaching ninth and tenth grade ELA as well as my Master's in Literacy Education are the foundation for my concerns in this area.1) Of the highest concern for me is the discussion of changing the percentages of fiction vs nonfiction found in the introduction of the ELA standards. This material directly states that the standards were adjusted to match the NAEP test. STANDARDIZED ASSESSMENTS SHOULD NEVER DICTATE STANDARDS OR CURRICULUM. Standards and curriculum should be crafted by local educators and scholars with input from other members of the community including legislature, business, and parents. Even for a test as highly regarded as the NAEP, it is extremely bad form to teach to the test in such a manner.
I would further like to add that no standardized assessment, especially the upcoming Smarter Balanced exam, will ever successfully assess how reading literature and discussing it with peers affects students. SBAC would prefer a narrowing of standards that only look at the correct answers that can be found directly in text. That is not how literature is meant to be experienced. Literary critics have debated over classics for decades because of the very nature of literature and what it means to individuals. And no test will ever measure what the right book can do for the right student at the right time.