Success in School and Career:
Common Core Standards in Language Arts K-5
by Andrea M. Nelson-Royes, EdD
Book Review by Dennis Moore
Every Child in America deserves a world-class education. Today, more than ever, a world-class education is a prerequisite for success. America was once the best-educated nation in the world. A generation ago, we led all nations in college completion, but today, ten countries have passed us. The issue is not that their students are smarter than ours. It is that these countries are being smarter about how to educate their students. And the countries that out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow.
We must do better. Together we must achieve a new goal, that by 2020, the United States will once again lead the world in college completion. We must raise the expectations for our students, our schools, and ourselves – this must be a national priority. We must ensure that every student graduate from high school well prepared for college and a career.
— President Barack Obama (2010), 44th President of the United States
“A Blueprint for Reform: The Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act”
Dr. Andrea M. Nelson-Royes, an educator, researcher, author, and parent who has a passionate interest in how children learn to read and how to keep them reading, has written this thought-provoking book, Success in School and Career: Common Core Standards in Language Arts K – 5, that should resonate with all parents and educators interested in America reclaiming its status as the best educated nation in the world. The author holds a doctoral degree in education and organizational leadership from Nova Southeastern University in Florida, and it is exemplified in this scholarly and well written book. In numerous phone interviews with the author it dawned on me that this book that she has written is personal as well as professional, as she has a deep passion and commitment to educating our youth. It starts with her own children.
Perhaps most significant in Dr. Royes’ book is a statement made in the preface: “Educators must rally, join forces, and welcome the changes stemming from the CCSS expectations. Educators must also embrace the literacy initiatives embedded in the CCSS to prepare students for educational and career success. Just imagine how fulfilling it will be when even ordinary students are transformed into superb students! Superior, empowered students have the best opportunity for a lifetime of success.” CCSS actually stands for Common Core State Standards, which the author indicates in her book that educators such as herself are duty bound to embrace to bring about a better way of teaching.
In this book, which is backed up by statistics and graphs, Dr. Royes states: “A high-quality education for every American student is vital to the health of our nation.” She relies on organizations such as the ‘Alliance for Excellent Education (the Alliance),’ which indicated that if just half of the nation’s dropouts from the Class of 2011 had graduated, they would likely have provided the following economic benefits to the nation:
• $19 billion in increased home sales and $74 million in increased annual auto sales.
• 54,000 new jobs and a $9.6 billion increase in the gross domestic product.
• $713 million in increased annual state tax revenues.
Clearly, the author recognizes a need for our students to be better prepared for college, which essentially is what this book is about. It starts in the formative years for children K – 5. She is analytical in her approach as well as pragmatic.
Significantly, in Success in School and Career, Dr. Royes states: “Educators, students, parents, and caregivers must understand the advanced literary skills students need, in order to be college and career ready. Most important, these literacy developments require state and district actions to develop system-level strategies to link them across the curricula.” It is one thing for the author to make this statement, yet another to get others to embrace it. Perhaps that is why throughout this book she focuses on everyone throughout the nation being on the same page, or the “Common Core State Standards.” She uses the State of New York as an example, by stating: “The New York State Education Department has already developed assessments aligned to the CCSS. In the 2012-2013 school year, the department worked with the Board of Regents to align the state testing programs to the CCSS. Educators around the state of New York have already instituted the CCSS instruction in classrooms. In June 2012 SED released the New York State Common Core Sample Questions. For each grade level and subject, SED has provided about twelve sample questions. The questions include multiple choice, short constructed response, and extended constructed response:”
• Multiple choice questions ask students to identify various aspects of a given text. These aspects include central idea, style elements, character and plot development, and vocabulary.
• Short constructed response questions are single questions that ask students to respond to a prompt or question, state their answer, and provide textual evidence for support. The goal is for students to show briefly their ability to understand text.
• Extended constructed response questions assess a student’s ability to write from sources. These questions also allow students to demonstrate the ability to write a coherent essay using textual evidence to support their ideas.
Clearly, the author has done a lot of research to assess the needs and common goals of educators throughout the nation to bring America back to its pre-eminent status in the world regarding our educational system. This is more of a primer for or other educators to get on board, as well as a wakeup call to our nation about our falling behind the rest of the world, and the collective effort on the part of many to turn things around. It is a book that I am sure is going to resonate with the nation, as it has with me. Dr. Noyes has done a service to our nation by writing this book.
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Dennis Moore is a writer and book reviewer with the East County Magazine in San Diego and the book review editor for SDWriteway, an online newsletter for writers in San Diego that has partnered with the East County Magazine. He has also been a freelance contributor to EURweb based out of Los Angeles as well as the San Diego Union-Tribune Newspaper. Mr. Moore can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow him on Twitter at @DennisMoore8.