Common Core: Adopting & Implementing School-wide Policies & Practices

by Jim Burke

Of the many challenges posed by the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), few rival those posed by getting all the teachers in a department or even an entire school to adopt and implement common policies or practices. Two examples will suffice: adopting and agreeing to all teach a specific approach to (or model of) argument and a style guide. I recently had cause to ask around at my school about which style guides (MLA, APA, Chicago) people required their students to use. The answer, of course, should inevitably vary by discipline, though generally the humanities classes and some social science classes favor, especially at the high school level, the Modern Language Association (MLA) style. As with so many things related to the Common Core, however, one quickly discovers a Wild West of practices: in this case, most teachers I queried insist on MLA, but others within the same department insist on, for example, Chicago, arguing it is what they use in college; still others simply do not require students to write and so to them it is an irrelevant question. Finally, those who use tools such as EasyBib, NoodleTools, or Zotero find the question irrelevant for other reasons: there are programs that can do all that for students so it is better to teach them these software applications instead of some citation system they may or may not need to use in college depending on which major they finally choose. To answer these different questions about style guides for myself, my students, and my colleagues, I created this one-page overview of style guides and bibliographic resources.

Does this issue of citation and style guides have a direct connection to the Common Core? Absolutely. Writing standard 8 says:

Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, using search terms effectively; assess the credibility and accuracy of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.

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