Thursday, December 16, 2010

Introducing the New Standards

Recently my work has involved introducing groups of educators to our new Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects. Whether I am working with groups of Teachers, Reading Specialists, or Central Office Administrators, everyone is beginning the process of learning the standards and deciding how to implement them into already existing curriculum work.

The new standards present end-of-year expectations at each grade level that match the cross-diciplinary literacy expectations that are required for students to be ready for college and the workforce. For each literacy area, there are "college and career ready" anchor standards. The Standards are divided into sections: Reading Standards for Literature K-5, Reading Standards for Informational Text K-5, Foundational Sills K-5, Writing Standards K-5, Speaking and Listening Standards K-5, Language Standards K-5; then the same areas are addressed for 6-12; finally, the Standards for literacy in the content areas are addressed. Every section is preceeded by the Anchor Standards - the ultimate goals.

The document is set up so that it may be read across the grades to see the progression of a standard or down the grade level to see what the outcome expectations are for every section in that grade. In addition, the grade levels before and after are on either side, so that a first grade teacher can easily see what the outcome expectations are for K and where students will be headed in second grade.

The document has many additional side bars and inserts that provide a wealth of information. Appendix A of the document provides the research and philosophical underpinnings of the standards project. Appendix B offers many texts for consideration and to demonstrate not only the range of reading at a grade level but the increase of text complexity through the grades. Appendix C is a compilation of actual student writing with annotations to match the Standards and to provide exemplars.

Currently the Board of Education has reviewed the recommendations for additions: Pre-K standards, teaching common abbreviations in grade 2, cursive writing in grades 3 and 4, and literary analysis associated with particular genre in reading and writing. They have also considered the public comment provided by an online survey and they are expected to vote on these additions next week. To view any of the parts of the Standards document that I mentioned, please visit http://www.doe.mass.edu/candi/commoncore. On that web page you will be able to see the latest updates with regard to the Standards and any tools that may be developed to assist schools and districts as the Standards become our new Frameworks.