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Information: Examples of Common Core English Language Arts Standards

Examples of Common Core Raising the Bar

English Language Arts (ELA) Common Core State Standards will be implemented in almost every state across the nation in the 2014-2015 school year. Many states have already begun to phase in the implementation of the Common Core. The Common Core standards require dramatically different—and more skilled and knowledgeable—instruction. These new standards raise the bar for more rigorous ELA instructional practices across the nation.

Click here to see Arizona’s past standards compared with Common Core State Standards.

English Language Arts Common Core State Standards Expectations
1 Balancing Informational & Literary Text Increased attention to informational text in the English Language Arts curriculum.
2 Knowledge in Other Content Areas Students build knowledge about the world (content areas) through TEXT rather than the teacher or activities.
3 Staircase of Complexity Reading of high quality, more difficult text.
4 Text-based Answers Students engage in rich conversations about text, using text evidence to support arguments.
5 Writing from Sources Purposeful writing that uses text evidence to support reasoning, and building and defending arguments.
6 Academic Vocabulary Students constantly build the vocabulary they need to access grade-level complex texts.

ELA Common Core focuses on using texts worth reading and asking questions worth answering! They expect students to read text and cite text evidence while communicating it effectively with peers and in their writing. The standards also push students to understand increasingly more difficult text and vocabulary as compared to current standards. Just as important, the literacy standards aren’t just for ELA classes—they are designed to embed reading, writing, listening and speaking expectations in other content areas such as history, social studies, the sciences and career-technical education.

Here are examples of how student tasks will be drastically different due to Common Core ELA State Standards:

Increased Expectations of Student Reading Tasks
Questions will require higher level of thinking, not just understanding what was read. Instead of simply asking a child what color the girl wore… A question will ask why the girl wore a yellow dress. This style of question gives children the opportunity to think critically (e.g. Because yellow was her mother’s favorite color and she wanted to make her mom happy).
Rather than “racing through the passages,” and summarizing information… Students will be required to do a “close reading” of text through analyzing text read, questioning the text itself, interpreting what is written and justifying their reasoning behind their interpretation using text evidence to support their response.
Instead of identifying the purpose of informational text and retelling important facts from one text heard or read in Kindergarten… Students will be required to describe the connection between two individuals, events or ideas in a text. Common Core State Standards also require students to be able to identify basic similarities in and differences between two texts on the same topic (e.g., in illustrations, descriptions, etc.).
Instead of simply pointing out what is similar and different between two texts on similar topics in middle school… Students will be required to determine whether the similarities and differences between the texts are due to author’s interpretation or based on factual information.
Rather than asking students to read a non-fiction text on Peruvian orphans and answer basic questions about the text… The students will be asked to:

  • read an interview with a teenager who started a charity to help Peruvian orphans;
  • learn more about other young people who devote themselves to helping those in need through additional articles/online videos;
  • answer questions that require them to describe what they’ve learned, citing evidence from articles read/videos watched; and
  • research and present a five-minute speech about a “young wonder” of their choice.
Rather than asking students to read one non-fiction text on evergreen trees and answer basic questions about why these trees don’t lose their leaves… The students will be asked to read one myth and one informational text about why evergreen trees do not lose their leaves, and write how the explanations are similar and different.

The Common Core State Standards also have increased expectations of students through the type of quality texts students will be expected to read at particular grade levels. Not only is the task more difficult, the text they have to read is also more difficult. For example:

More Difficult Text Reading
Sarah, Plain and Tall is a story that was typically read at the fourth grade level; the Common Core expects second- and third-grade students to be able to read this story with deep understanding.
Casey at the Bat, a popular children’s poem, is typically read in middle school, but will now be read in upper elementary levels.
The “Letter on Thomas Jefferson,” typically read at the high school level, will now be read at the middle school level.
IA Doll’s House is a play that was typically read in 11th or 12th grade, will be read in 9th or 10th.