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The Common Core Standards have emerged as a driving force in curriculum design in the majority of states, and teachers and administrators are parsing these standards for their implications for practice. A close read of the Common Core State Standards for ELA reveal the central role of “the text” in all disciplines, and these can’t just be any texts. In whatever form or genre, texts must be rich in ideas and grade level appropriate so that students acquire the literacy and thinking skills to “read explicitly” and delve deeply into the content authors set forth in their works. For a more detailed discussion of texts, the CCSS documents provide guidance on calibrating both the qualities and quantitative attributes of grade-level appropriate texts and list sample reading texts.
In the CCSS-ELA texts connect the literacy standards to each other. Reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language usage interact as practices to learn and communicate understanding of texts and their content. Writing is evidence-based and arguments are text-dependent, for example. Speaking and listening are literacy practices the help students engage in discussions about texts and respond to them orally. Instruction that involves students in writing, seminars and discussion-based strategies help students test their interpretations of texts and develop critical thinking skills about the ideas they have about texts.
Whether a text is a novel or short story, a data graphic or map, a science report or primary source, students need to acquire literacy skills to manage these texts in a variety of ways: to delineate, to describe, to compare, and to analyze just to name a few. They need to acquire the confidence to test texts, to argue or find gaps in the author’s thinking. As students become more adept in their literacy practices, they become increasingly capable of managing an academic curriculum and, later in their lives, careers that will involve them in ideas and texts.
This is a very interesting post, but what does it mean for a student who for paperwork purposes is an 11th grader, but functions at a preschool level? This is what the state of Virginia is requiring us to do. Teach grade level content in all subjects.