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The Path to College and Careers:

What prospective educators need to know about the Common Core State Standards for ELA/Literacy

Desired Outcomes
Awareness of the origin and history of development of the CCSS Understanding the major design and organization of the ELA/Literacy CCSS Familiarity with the key features and instructional shifts of the CCSS Consideration of the impact of the key features and shifts on instruction Determination of priorities in preparing educators to teach in the Common Core era

History and Development

Common Core Standards Adopted by State

States in green have adopted CCSS, blue adopted ELA only, gray have not adopted From ASCD

Major Design Goals

Maintain focus on what matters most for college- and career-readiness (evidence and research base) Build on the best state standards Benchmark against our international peers Include rigorous content and application of knowledge through higher-order skills

Design and Organization

College and Career Readiness (CCR) Anchor Standards provide focus and coherence Grade-specific end-of-year expectations Cumulative progression of skills and understandings One-to-one correspondence with CCR standards at each grade

The Common Core Path to College and Careers

Engage with Complex Text

Extract and Employ Evidence

Build Knowledge

Key Features and Their Implications

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Backmapping Coordinated Structure Challenging Text Disciplinary Literacy Informational Text Close Reading Multiple Texts Writing About Texts

1. Backmapping
Traditional standards start with kindergarten and add each years goals on top of those Common Core standards began with college/career readiness standards and backmapped from there These standards target student success beyond graduation (rather than replicating past goals) Rigorous, but more honest standards

1. Backmapping (Cont.)
Implications: The CCSS are markedly harder than past standards since they are designed to ensure that students reach graduation target Larger percentages of students likely to fail to meet these standards

2. Coordinated structure
Historically, standards are somewhat random lists of skills, knowledge, and strategies Common Core State Standards have very strong progressions and an informative organization that requires attention The progressions can be followed from grade level to grade level and doing so helps to define the standards Strong connections across comprehension, oral language, and writing

2. Coordinated structure (cont.)

Teachers need to study the progression of the standards across grade levels rather than only concentrating only on the grade they teach The standards should not be divided for instructional focus (they need to be coordinatedtext is more important) Power standards make less sense than in the past Pacing guides and the like make less sense than in the past Teachers can really know these standards (and should)

3. Challenging Text
Previous standards emphasized cognitive skills, largely ignoring the role of text In the Common Core text difficulty is central and all cognitive skills have to be executed with texts of a specified difficulty range Item #10 focuses on text difficulty and indicates specific readability ranges students must reach each year (Lexiles, ATOS, Flesch-Kincaid; Degrees of Reading Power; Reading Maturity; SourceRater)

3. Challenging Text (Cont.)

Implications: Students will be taught from texts that are more challenging than those used in the past Less emphasis on instructional level matching (except K-1) Greater emphasis on stretching students to meet the demands of reading harder text Greater need to scaffold (cognitive, motivational) challenging reading (neither reading the texts to students nor telling them what they say)

4. Disciplinary literacy
Past standards have not made a big deal out of reading in history/social studies or science Past emphasis was on learning how to read (and the idea was that students could apply these skills to content area textbooks) Research is revealing unique reading demands of the various disciplines (reading history is not the same thing as reading literature, etc.) The Common Core State Standards requires specialized reading emphasis for history/social studies and science/technical subjects

4. Disciplinary literacy (cont.)

The ELA standards should be shared by the science, history, vocational education departments It is essential that science and history include the reading of texts in their instructional routines Content teachers must emphasize skills that they may not have in the past These are disciplinary standards, not content area reading standardsthe idea is not how the application of generalizable reading and study strategies to subject matter but how to read in the specialized ways required for a disciplinary reading

5. Informational text
Past standards emphasized both literary and informational texts However, this inclusion left the distribution of this emphasis up to the teachers which often led to serious imbalances The common core standards require the teaching of comprehension within both informational and literary texts These new standards emphasize informational texts equally with literary texts (in Grades K-5) and, considering the overall curriculum, it drops even more in the upper grades

5. Informational text (Cont.)

Implications Teachers will have to get more comfortable working with informational text (especially primary grade teachers and English teachers) Need to guard against informational text being taken over by literary treatments of factual information (such as biography) Also, need to protect the role of literature in the curriculum

6. Close Reading
Past standards have been based largely upon theories of reading comprehension drawn from cognitive science, emphasizing strategies or mental moves that readers make (e.g., summarization, questioning, monitoring, visualizing) The Common Core standards are based more on literary theory (New Criticism) Great emphasis on the information in the text (and in the use of such information as evidence) Great emphasis on analyzing how text works

6. Close Reading (cont.)

Students will need to engage to a greater extent in deep analysis of the text and its meaning and implications Less time on background information, comprehension strategies, picture walks, etc. (though these still can be brought in by teachers in appropriate ways) Greater emphasis on careful reading of a text, weighing of authors diction, grammar, and organization to make sense of the text (more attention to how text works, tone, author perspective) Rereading will play a greater role in teaching reading Greater emphasis on text-dependent questions

7. Multiple texts
Past standards emphasized the comprehension mainly of single texts CCSS emphasize the interpretation of multiple texts throughout (at all grade levels, and in reading, writing, and oral language; 12-15% of the ELA standards mention multiple texts explicitly) Most of this emphasis is on comparisons of information and features across texts (synthesis plays big role too, especially as one moves up the grades) The common core is not promoting 1990s style (multidisciplinary thematic units)

7. Multiple Texts (cont.)

There will be a greater need for combinations of texts that can be used together Need for greater emphasis on text synthesis (how to combine the information from multiple sources into ones own text or presentation) Need for greater emphasis on comparative evaluation and analysis (the majority of the multiple text items emphasize some kind of comparison) Need for a consideration of non-text sources (e.g., video, experiments)

8. Writing about text

Past standards have emphasized writing as a freestanding subject or skill Students have been expected to write texts requiring low information (or only the use of widely available background knowledge) The Common Core puts greater emphasis on the use of evidence in writing Thus, the major emphasis shifts from writing personal stories or opinion pieces to writing about the ideas in text

8. Writing about Text (cont.)

Implications Writing will need to be more closely integrated with reading comprehension instruction (rethink organizational plans) The amount of writing about what students read will need to increase Greater emphasis on: (1) writing summaries of texts, (2) writing based on text models, (3) writing analyses and critiques of texts, (4) writing syntheses of text

Three Minute Pause:

Processing Through Speaking and Listening

1. Summarize Key Points So Far 2. Add Your Own Thoughts

3. Pose Clarifying Questions
Adapted from Jay McTighe

Where are we?

6 Shifts in ELA Literacy: Impact on Assessments and Instruction

Common Core Implementation
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Common Core Assessments

1 & 2: Non-fiction Texts Authentic Texts Higher Level of Text Complexity Paired Passages Focus on command of evidence from text: rubrics and prompts Academic Vocabulary

Balancing Informational and Literary Text Building Knowledge in the Disciplines Staircase of Complexity Text-based Answers Writing from Sources Academic Vocabulary

3: 4&5: 6:

ELA/Literacy Instructional Shifts:

Regular practice with complex text and its academic language Building knowledge through content-rich nonfiction Reading, writing and speaking grounded in evidence from text, both literary and informational


Descriptions: Shifts in ELA/ Literacy

Shift 1 Shift 2 Shift 3 Shift 4 Balancing Informational & Literary Text Knowledge in the Disciplines Staircase of Complexity Text-based Answers Students read a true balance of informational and literary texts. Students build knowledge about the world (domains/ content areas) through TEXT rather than the teacher or activities Students read the central, grade appropriate text around which instruction is centered. Teachers are patient, create more time and space and support in the curriculum for close reading. Students engage in rich and rigorous evidence based conversations about text.

Shift 5
Shift 6

Writing from Sources

Academic Vocabulary

Writing emphasizes use of evidence from sources to inform or make an argument.

Students constantly build the transferable vocabulary they need to access grade level complex texts. This can be done effectively by spiraling like content in increasingly complex texts.


Regular practice with complex text and its academic language

Reading Anchor Standard #10 requires that students read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently Language Standard #4 requires use of word parts, context and resource materials to determine word meaning Staircase of complexity to close the gap that currently exists between college/career level texts and texts currently used in high schools Shift in Lexile bands at the upper end of elementary and throughout middle and high school A focus on academic vocabulary words that appear across content areas (Tier 2 Words Isabel Beck)

The Complexity Shift

Consistent with this shift: Selects texts that are of high value and worth spending time to re-read Provides students with text that steps up in complexity to beyond their reading level and allows them to grapple with difficult words, concepts, and themes Takes into consideration the qualitative and quantitative measures of complexity, and also considers the reader and task Spends time having students re-read the same text to develop a deeper understanding (purposely slows instruction to provide close reading) Uses scaffolds to support students through difficult text Inconsistent with this shift: Spends extended time on a text that does not have high academic value or is not worth the investment of time Provides only texts on or below grade level so students feel comfortable with text and can read it independently Offers no instruction on how to read difficult text Spends an inordinate amount of time doing pre-reading activities to the point of providing students with so much information that reading the text becomes irrelevant

Reading, writing and speaking grounded in evidence from text, both literary and informational
(Reflected in Reading Standard 1; Writing Standards 1-3, 9):

Writing to sources using evidence from text to analyze, defend claims and present clear information Questions are asked that require students to have read the text (text-dependent questions); the questions cannot be answered using solely prior knowledge or experience and require careful attention to the text Narrative writing throughout all levels Later levels add argumentative and informational writing

The Evidence Shift

Consistent with this shift: Inconsistent with this shift: Asks questions that are interesting Chooses text(s) that lends itself to a deeper understanding using TDQs and generate a lot of discussion, but Asks questions that are answered questions are text-independent and through a close reading of a complex do not ensure that students and worthy text understand what theyve read Asks questions that require students to Asks questions that do not require carefully consider the information the student to have read the text in presented in the text and provide order to answer a question (i.e. evidence from the text in their responses opinion questions like If you were, Asks text-independent questions (e.g. or What would you have done if) What would you have done) only Asks TDQs of texts that dont require after text-dependent questions have or lend themselves to a deeper built students a strong conceptual understanding foundation so these types of questions can be answered using critical thinking

Building knowledge through content-rich nonfiction
Distribution of Texts Across Grades (NAEP framework)
Middle: High:

50% informational
55% informational 70% informational

50% literary
45% literary 30% literary

From Common Core State Standards for ELA & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects

Content rich non-fiction in history/social studies, science and the arts Recommendation is that students build coherent general content knowledge both within each year and across years In 6-12 much more attention on literary non-fiction than has been traditional Focus of literary standards in social studies, science and career/technical is on gaining content knowledge through reading and writing

The Knowledge Shift

Consistent with this shift: Inconsistent with this shift:

Uses appropriate balance of literary and informational text Students are expected to learn content from what they read A range of text types are used throughout the curriculum including: Literature stories, drama, poetry Informational text literary nonfiction, and historical, scientific and technical texts

Heavy focus on one type of text to the exclusion of the other Time is spent referring to text rather than reading text Narrow exposure to text types; one class/teacher is considered responsible for literacy learning (typically ELA teachers)

Three Minute Pause:

Processing Through Speaking and Listening

1. Summarize Key Points So Far 2. Add Your Own Thoughts

3. Pose Clarifying Questions
Adapted from Jay McTighe

Where are we going?

Were you able to answer these questions without rereading parts of the text? How did it feel to have to answer them independently? How did it feel when you were encouraged to collaborate prior to formulating an answer? What implications does this have for instructional practice as it relates to literacy (reading, writing, speaking, listening)?

Text-Dependent Questions...


Can only be answered with evidence from the text.

Can be literal (checking for understanding) but must also involve analysis, synthesis, evaluation.

Focus on word, sentence, and paragraph, as well as larger ideas, themes, or events.
Focus on difficult portions of text in order to enhance reading proficiency. Can also include prompts for writing and discussion questions.

Non-Examples and Examples

Not Text-Dependent Text-Dependent
What makes Caseys experiences at bat humorous?

In Casey at the Bat, Casey strikes out.

Describe a time when you failed at something.

In Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Dr.

King discusses nonviolent protest. Discuss, in writing, a time when you wanted to fight against something that you felt was unfair.

What can you infer from Kings letter about the letter that he received?

In The Gettysburg Address Lincoln

says the nation is dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Why is equality an important value to promote?

The Gettysburg Address mentions the year 1776. According to Lincolns speech, why is this year significant to the events described in the speech?


Standard One Increased Ability to Use Text Evidence

Standard Ten





Increasing Range and Complexity





Standards Two through Nine







Culminating Tasks

Should relate to core understanding and key ideas. A coherent sequence of text dependent questions will scaffold students toward successfully completing the culminating task.
The title of this selection is Because of Winn-Dixie.' Using your answers from the questions above and class discussion, explain why this is an appropriate title for the selection. Be sure to clearly cite evidence from the text for each part of your answer. Officer Buckles final safety tip is 'ALWAYS STICK WITH YOUR BUDDY.' How did he and Gloria each learn this lesson for themselves throughout the story?


Implications for Practice

There is no one right way to have students work with text dependent questions. Providing for the differing needs of students means providing and scaffolding supports differentially - not asking easier questions or substituting simpler text. Listening and speaking should be built into any sequence of activities along with reading and writing:

Re-read it, think it, talk it, write it

The CCSS require ALL students to read and engage with grade appropriate complex text regularly. This requires new ways of working in our classrooms.


The Reading-Writing Connection

After years of separation, reading and writing have reconciled. Close reading of complex text, with textdependent questions focusing students on gathering evidence to gain understanding Writing tasks requiring analysis of text, gathering and citing of evidence and synthesis of evidence or writing to sources is a major focus of Common Core State Standards

Next steps
Align teacher education and training efforts in the area of English/language arts to Common Core State Standards priorities for:
Reading Writing Speaking and Listening Language

Reading Priorities
New grounding in informational texts Spotlight on what students read: Staircase of growing text complexity across the grades is outlined Samples of high-quality literature and informational texts in a range of genres and subgenres offered Fostering independent, close reading of texts

Writing Priorities
Writing logical arguments based on substantive claims, sound reasoning, and relevant evidence (80:20) Writing about sources (drawing evidence from texts) Researchboth short, focused (such as those commonly required in the college) and more sustained projects Ability to adapt writing to a variety of contexts, communicative tasks, and timeframes

Speaking and Listening Priorities

Day to day purposeful academic talk in collaborative groups Formal sharing of findings and information, including the use of various forms of media

Language Priorities
Building general academic and domainspecific vocabulary Using standard English in formal writing and speaking Acquiring grammar and usage in the service of communication and comprehension

At the core
By themselves, the Common Core State Standards will not significantly affect student learning. They need to be part of a comprehensive approach to raising expectations and increasing rigor throughout the K12 system, and classroom teachers are the most important group in turning the Common Core State Standards from mere words into highquality instruction. el.pdf The Common Core Ate My Baby and Other Urban Legends