Can the Common Core Argument Standards Close the High School-College Gap?
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ABSTRACT: CAN THE CCSS ARGUMENT BASED STANDARDS CLOSE THE HIGH SCHOOL/COLLEGE DISCONNECT? In this dissertation, I will support an initiative often scorned by scholars, commentators, and educators: common national content standards. I go on to argue that common content standards figure to solve one of the major problems in American education today: the high school-college disjuncture described in Chapter One of this dissertation. Partly in response to this disconnect, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are now being implemented in many American public secondary and primary schools. In my view, the CCSS represent an advance over past standards. One reason for this much deserved praise of the Common Core is that the standards focus on skills of argument, and argument, according to several scholars, is an essential skill for college success. Yet despite the importance of argument in the culture of the university, the professions and citizenship, skills in argument literacy have failed to be sufficiently emphasized in the K-12 curriculum, and this failure has contributed greatly to the disconnect in skills and expectations when high school seniors get to college. In Chapter One, then, I will describe this high school – college gap, as well as the promising solution that the Common Core argument standards offer by encouraging the teaching of argumentation skills all the way down to the early grades. In Chapter Two, I will further ABSTRACT (continued) describe the virtues of the Common Core argument standards and also show why some of the common objections made to such argument standards are not compelling. Nevertheless, as I will go on to argue in Chapters Three and Four, argument standards like those of CCSS are not enough to heal the high school – college disjuncture unless they are made more content-specific than they are at present. I go on to argue that the CCSS leave so much discretion to schools, districts and teachers about the specifics of what they should teach that they fail to provide adequate guidance. This guidance can only be provided by a national curriculum that covers common skills and content.
skills vs. content