Iowa Teacher: Common Core Reading Workbook Not Teaching Reading

I had an elementary school teacher from Iowa contact me recently about her concerns with the Common Core and the Common Core aligned materials she has been told to work with.  I am sharing her message, with permission, anonymously:

Shane, I heard you speak recently and was very impressed with what you had to say. I enjoy your FB posts and have only commented on one because, being a teacher, I am afraid someone may see what I write and it would get back to my administration.

I am so worried about Common Core. We are using a reading workbook this year that is aligned to the Common Core.  It is NOT teaching reading. I am on week 3 (each lesson is a week long) and it stresses main ideas and details. But, there are no other skills of context clues, vocabulary, word forms, etc. In fact, some of the words/vocabulary used in the assessments are very difficult. Not one student in my class is getting an A so far, there are a few Bs, some Cs, but mostly Ds, and Fs. I know the reading is difficult and it is much like what I read in elementary school, if not jr. high. The assessment yesterday was almost a 2-page article about King Tut’s tomb and the archaeologists who found it. It would have been a great story to read as a large group and discuss. (A lot of the articles are from Time For Kids.) But, my students had no background knowledge of King Tut, not much of Ancient Egypt, nor much about grave robbers. They had 3 multiple choice questions and a written response to a question. I am not saying we don’t need to step up with education, but these requirements of the Core and to get off of the watch list are going to weigh everyone, teachers and students, down more. My kids aren’t learning and I am not teaching "reading". I am not supposed to give assignments that the other teacher doesn’t also give, but I have to 1) discuss and teach about other reading strategies and 2) to help try to boost grades….it hasn’t helped since I am required to also grade by weights and not just points.

Sorry for the long message, but I appreciate your posts and fight against the Core.

About Shane Vander Hart

Shane Vander Hart founded Iowans for Local Control in 2012 which later merged with Iowa RestorEd. Shane also is the founder and editor-in-chief of Caffeinated Thoughts and the founder and president of 4:15 Communications, LLC, a social media & communications consulting/management firm.  You can connect with Shane on Facebook or follow him on Twitter and Google +.


  1. tiredofgarbage says:
    A recent Public Interest Institute Brief tangentially addresses one of this teacher’s concerns….That her “administration” would find out about her comments on public policy issues. Teachers do not, and should not, have to remain in the teachers union if they don’t want to. The Professional Educators of Iowa is much better.

  2. It’s ridiculous that we put requirements on schools and teachers to do a better job when they are given teaching tools that set the students, the teachers, the school, and our education system up for failure….the inmates are running the asylum.

  3. It seems like the teacher has a problem with the materials rather than the core. Judging from the description of the materials, they are NOT aligned with the core.

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