Monday, August 26, 2013

Text in the Common Core State Standards

A primary expectation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English Language Arts is for students to be comfortable analyzing complex texts. CCSS defines text complexity in both quantitative (e.g., Flesch-Kincaid and Lexile® measures) and qualitative (e.g., sophistication of ideas, assumption of prior knowledge) terms. The standards documents offer a guide for evaluating text rigor and complexity as well as lists of sample texts that meet the requirements (  Embedded in the CCSS are requirements for types of texts as well, including “multiple accounts of the same event,” “modern works of fiction,” “seminal U.S. texts,” and “foundational works of American literature.” ATI’s ELA writers have expanded our text offerings to support assessment of the new standards.

In elementary school, we have added challenging nonfiction texts with higher Flesch-Kincaid and Lexile® measures, such as “The Ice Woman: Louise Boyd’s Arctic Adventures,” and “Up, Up, and Away: The Story of Helium.” Our new texts include newspaper articles, letters, and first-person accounts of festivals, neighborhood gardens, and carnivals. We’ve written contrasting biographies of famous and important writers. To our rich set of folktales and cultural myths, we’ve added contemporary fiction featuring modern-day children with contemporary concerns, as well as excerpts from classic children’s books like The Secret Garden and Little Women.

High school CCSS emphasize classic American literature and historical documents. We’ve recently added poems by Emily Dickinson, as well as several short stories by Kate Chopin. Our banks now include presidential speeches, including inaugural addresses by FDR, Lincoln, and Washington, as well as excerpts from The Federalist Papers and Common Sense.

Eleanor Gallagher
English Language Arts Content Coordinator

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