English Language Arts Common Core State Standards
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Common Core State Standards

English Language Arts (ELA)

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science & Technical Subjects, define the knowledge and skills students should have within their K-12 education careers so that they will graduate high school able to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing academic college courses and in workforce training programs.

Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts

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CCSS for English Language Arts (PDF, 66 pages)

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Table of Contents:


District Implementation Network

Examples of What the Standards RequireCCSS English Langauge Arts Graph

The standards insist that instruction in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language be a shared responsibility within the school. The K–5 standards include expectations for reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language applicable to a range of subjects, including but not limited to ELA. The grades 6–12 standards are divided into two sections, one for ELA and the other for history/social studies, science, and technical subjects. This interdisciplinary approach to literacy is based on research indicating that students who are college and career ready must be proficient in reading complex text from many disciplines. To support this, the CCSS for ELA:

  • Have more of a focus on increasing the complexity of the texts students read and discuss, and developing skills in argumentative writing and research.
  • Emphasize speaking and listening skills as an avenue to evaluate, integrate and present information from many sources.
  • Call for increased use of technology/multi-media to gather and publish information.

+ Reading standards
  • Introduce reading material of increasing complexity and require the progressive development of reading comprehension.
  • Mandate certain critical types of content for all students, including classic myths and stories from around the world, foundational U.S. documents, seminal works of American literature, and the writings of Shakespeare.
  • Propose that students read a diverse array of classic and contemporary literature as well as challenging informational texts in a range of subjects. The standards include sample texts to illustrate the expectations, but leave curriculum decisions other than the mandated content above to states, districts, and schools students.

+ Writing standards
  • Prepare students to write logical arguments based on substantive claims, sound reasoning, and relevant evidence, including at the early grades.
  • Require research—both short, focused projects (such as those commonly required in the workplace) and longer term in depth research.
  • Provide annotated samples of student writing and help establish adequate performance levels in writing arguments, informational/explanatory texts, and narratives in the various grades.

+ Speaking and Listening standards
  • Require that students gain, evaluate, and present increasingly complex information, ideas, and evidence through listening and speaking as well as through media.
  • Call for formal and informal presentations, including academic discussion in one-on-one, small-group, and whole-class settings.

+ Language standards
  • Expect that students will grow their vocabularies through a mix of conversations, direct instruction, and reading. The standards will help students determine word meanings, appreciate the nuances of words, and steadily expand their repertoire of words and phrases.
  • Recognize that students must be able to use formal English in their writing and speaking but that they must also be able to make informed, skillful choices among the many ways to express themselves through language.
  • Include strands for vocabulary and conventions, not because skills in these areas should be handled in isolation but because their use extends across reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

Transitioning to Common Core

The following documents were created as collaborative efforts between OSPI and members of the Literacy Leadership Cadre (LLC), which represents all nine ESDs.

  • ELA Map of Skills and Concepts (PDF) shows what students should know and be able to do when they exit Washington’s K-12 system; it is the destination for their literacy learning. A departure from the current standards, the Common Core State Standards provide all students with an integrated approach to literacy, as opposed to discrete separations among the skills of reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
  • Three-Year Transition Plan (PDF) is guidance for districts on how to begin implementation. It outlines what OSPI and statewide partners are committed to providing in terms of support for Washington’s schools as we transition to the Common Core State Standards. This framework shows the basic calendar for support availability, and is based on the understanding that the Washington K-10 Reading and Writing Standards (EALRs and GLEs) will be assessed through 2013-2014.

To assist schools and districts in transitioning to the new ELA Common Core State Standards, these documents provide a snapshot by grade level of some of the shifts found in the ELA CCSS.

Kindergarten | Grade 1 | Grade 2 | Grade 3 | Grade 4 | Grade 5 | Grade 6 | Grade 7 | Grade 8 | Grades 9-10 | Grades 11-12

English Language Learners and Students With Disabilities

ELLs may require additional time, appropriate instructional support, and aligned assessments as they acquire both English language proficiency and content area knowledge. Students with disabilities―students eligible under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)―must be challenged to excel within the general curriculum and be prepared for success in their post-school lives, including college and/or careers.

For Educators and Parents

OSPI resources:

Other resources:

Criteria for Publishers and Curriculum Developers

Developed by the authors of the Common Core State Standards, these criteria are designed to guide publishers and curriculum developers as they work to ensure alignment with the Common Core State Standards in developing reading materials for the early grades. Visit EngageNY.com for a full picture of these supports.

Top Resources for Math Educators

Materials to help states, districts, and others understand the organization and content of the standards and the content and evidence base used to support the standards.

Achieve The Core
Guidance and templates on how to begin implementing the shifts, assembled by the nonprofit Student Achievement Partners.

Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC)
A collaborative of classroom teachers, school and district leaders, state departments and state organizations and a wide array of service providers working with most focus on secondary literacy.

State work:

North Carolina has a bevy of support materials for English Language Arts, from "just getting started" to "deep in the transition."

New York has a large collection, including videos of teachers working in classrooms, to have calibrated conversations about instruction and CCSS-ELA.


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