Policy Documents

How Common Core’s ELA Standards Place College Readiness at Risk

Mark Bauerlein and Sandra Stotsky –
September 3, 2012

In this white paper for the Pioneer Institute, the authors write that Common Core’s standards for English language arts, their organization, and their division make it unlikely that American students will study a meaningful range of culturally and historically significant literary works in high school and learn something about their own literary tradition before graduation. A diminished emphasis on literary study will also prevent students from acquiring a rich understanding and use of the English language, a development that requires exposure to the language and thinking of the most talented writers of English through the centuries.

The stress on more informational reading in the English class will also likely lead to a decreased capacity for analytical thinking in all students. This paper aims to convince state and local education policy makers to emphasize Common Core’s existing literary-historical standards, requiring English departments and English teachers to begin with them as they redesign their secondary English curricula. Another objective is to add and prioritize a new literary-historical standard of their own along the lines of “Demonstrate knowledge of culturally important authors and/or texts in British literature from the Renaissance to Modernism.”