The Common Core State Standards: English Language Arts

The English Language Arts (ELA) Common Core Standards are based on the College and Career Readiness standards, the predecessor to the new Common Core Standards. Laid out in a grade-specific fashion, ELA standards define end-of-year expectations and a cumulative progression that enables students to meet college and career readiness expectations by the end of high school. As students advance through grades K-12, they are expected to meet each year’s ELA Common Core Standards by further developing skills and understandings mastered in preceding grades.
The Common Core Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy
Similar to the Common Core Standards for Mathematics, the English Language Arts Common Core Standards do not dictate a specific curriculum. Instead, standards for grade levels K-8 provide specific learning achievement expectations for students at each grade level. In the later grades ELA Standards allow for more flexibility by using two-year bands of achievement goals. In other words, grades 9-10 and 11-12 share ELA achievement Common Core Standards.
Under each grade level, the new Common Core Standards for English Language Arts break standards into four strands:
Reading– The Standards ensure that students are ready for the demands of college and career level reading through the use of literary and informational texts. These ELA Reading Standards focus on text complexity to ensure students can read at multiple levels. The expectation is that students will learn to build knowledge, gain insights, explore possibilities, and broaden their perspective through reading. Sample texts are provided for the purposes of aiding in lesson planning, however, a reading list is not provided.
Writing- ELA Writing Standards emphasize the ability to write logical arguments based on well-research evidence and sound reasoning. The Standards ensure opinion writing extends down to even the earliest grades. Assessments require students to differentiate between types of writing at all grade levels.
Speaking and Listening- The Standards will ensure all students master speaking and listening skills in a variety of real world settings. Students will gain, evaluate, and present increasingly complex information, ideas, and evidence through listening and speaking in one-on-one, small-group, and whole-class settings. That ELA Speaking and Listening Standards will focus on formal presentations and informal discussions.
Language- The Standards will require students to grow their vocabularies through a mix of direct instruction, conversations, and reading. In preparation for real life experiences in post-secondary education and the workforce, these ELA Language Standards will allow students to determine word meanings, appreciate the nuances of words, and steadily expand their repertoire of words and phrases.
A different set of ELA achievement standards is present for each strand by grade level. For example, third grade students have a set of ELA achievements specific to Language, another set of ELA achievements for Speaking and Listening, another for Writing and a fourth set for Reading. This integrated model of literacy allows for conceptual clarity by breaking down the processes of communication. The new Common Core Standards for ELA require that the instruction of these four strands be a shared responsibility within the school. In other words, teachers of other subjects will partner with English Language Arts teachers to make sure students achieve these goals.
Indicators of College and Career Readiness
Ultimately, the Common Core Standings for English Language Arts clarify those students who are college and career ready in Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening and Language are able to:

  • Demonstrate independence
  • Build strong content knowledge
  • Respond to the varying demands of audience, task, purpose, and discipline
  • Comprehend and critique
  • Value evidence
  • Use technology and digital media strategically and capably
  • Come to understand other perspectives and cultures

To read extended definitions and requirements of the Common Core Standards of English Language Arts and a full list of the grade level proficiencies, you can visit the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts.
More About the Common Core State Standards:
The Common Core State Standards: New Approach to Student Assessment»
The Common Core State Standards: An Overview»
The Common Core State Standards: Mathematics»

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