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ERIC Number: EJ1035719
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-May
Pages: 21
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 47
ISSN: EISSN-1175-8708
The Common Core State Standards and the "Basalisation" of Youth
Sulzer, Mark
English Teaching: Practice and Critique, v13 n1 p134-154 May 2014
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were published by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association in 2010 as part of a widespread standards-based reform movement in the United States. The education marketplace has responded with CCSS-aligned products, including standardised tests, professional development training and curriculum materials. This essay examines the discourse of reading/readers that the CCSS promotes by analysing a CCSS- aligned textbook intended for 9th grade English/language arts students. In operating under a New Critical paradigm of textual interpretation, this CCSS-aligned textbook positions reading as an activity comprised of a discrete skillset allowing readers to extract meaning from a text. Reading skills are envisioned as objective, neutral and eternal--and importantly, conducive to measurement. In drawing on dominant views of youth, this CCSS-aligned textbook positions young readers as "detectives" undergoing a training regimen. Young readers are envisioned only in terms of their progress toward college and career readiness, which prioritises their future importance and discounts their importance in the present. Together, these views ignore the transactional properties of reading and the creative capacities of the reader. In this essay, I examine how these views become normalised through metaphors, marginal notes, questions/prompts, standardised goals, and testing practice in Holt McDougal's Literature (Common Core Edition). I argue that under the CCSS, the creative activity of reading becomes simplified, and the identities of young readers become homogenised. Added together, these views promote a style of reasoning I refer to as the "basalisation" of youth.
Wilf Malcolm Institute for Educational Research, University of Waikato. PB 3105, Hamilton, New Zealand. Tel: +64-7-858-5171; Fax: +64-7-838-4712; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Grade 9; Junior High Schools; Middle Schools; Secondary Education; High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A