Common Core State Standards Shifts in ELA/Literacy

The following shift the focus of literacy instruction to center on the careful examination of the text itself. Underscoring what matters most in the CCSS illustrates the shifts that must take place in the next generation of curricula.  This is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all the shifts that would be required to fully implement ELA/Literacy.

Common Core State Standards Shifts in ELA/Literacy


K-5: Balancing Informational & Literary Texts

Students read (listen to in K-2) a mix of 50% informational and 50% literary texts, including reading in ELA, science, social studies, technical subjects and the arts.  Informational texts both within and across grades should be selected around topics or themes that allow children to gradually deepen their understanding of these topics over time.


Grades 6-12: Increasing Focus on Literary Nonfiction in ELA and Across the Curriculum

Students in grades 6-12 read a blend of literature and high quality literary non-fiction. In addition, content area teachers in history/social studies and science share responsibility for the development of students’ literacy skills by requiring students to read, analyze, evaluate, and write about domain-specific texts in their disciplines.   Across the curriculum, students in these grades are expected to read a balance of texts as detailed in Table B.


Cultivating Students’ Ability to Read Complex Texts Independently

Students read increasingly complex texts with increasing independence as they progress towards college and career readiness.  All students, including those who are behind, have extensive opportunities to encounter and comprehend appropriately complex and high quality texts at each grade level. Teachers create time and space in the curriculum for reading closely and thinking deeply about these texts and provide the necessary scaffolding and support so that all students can participate.


High Quality Text-Dependent Questions and Tasks

Students gather evidence, knowledge, and insight from their reading of texts. The majority of questions and tasks that students respond to require careful scrutiny of the text in question (including content, structure, and craft) and specific references to evidence in the text itself to support responses. 


Evidence-Based Writing and an Increasing Focus on Argument and Informative Writing

In writing, students support their presentation of ideas, information, or claims with the use of specific and relevant evidence drawn from reading and research.  In addition, as students progress through the grades, they spend a progressively greater amount of time on argument and informative writing compared to narrative, paralleling the balance assessed on the National Assessment of Student Progress (NAEP): by high school, 40% of student writing should be to argue, 40% should be to explain/inform, and 20% should be narrative.


Academic Vocabulary

Through reading, discussing, and writing about appropriately complex texts at each grade level, students build the general academic vocabulary they will need to access a wide range of complex texts in college and careers.  Students gather as much as they can about the meaning of these words from the context of how the words are being used in the text.  Teachers offer support as needed when students are not able to figure out word meanings from the text alone and for students who are still developing high frequency vocabulary.

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