Playing “Catch Up”
Mike Schwartz, English Teacher, Independence High School
I think that the primary concern for high school English teachers is how to meet the new common core standards with the renewed emphasis on written expression. For years, the primary focus of English instruction was to teach the specific skills that we knew would be assessed on the SAT multiple choice test, no more and no less. This has left gaps in the skill set that high school writers need to be able to not only meet the common core standard evaluations, but also to be successful college writers. This emphasis must begin at a much earlier stage in their writing instruction.
Teachers are now faced with “catching up” students who do not know how to used outside source material, let alone cite those sources. Our students do not know how to integrate multiple sources to support a claim, and they need the confidence to establish a claim in the first place. I see struggles for the next three to five years in getting our students to the point where the not only can express themselves coherently as they provide evidence to prove their claims, but also the ability to address complex issues clearly understanding that they have something to say.