Common Core State Standards and The Instructional Shifts in English Language Arts

Posted by Kristy Beaudry McCain on Oct 4, 2013 8:00:42 PM


Understanding The Common Core Instructional Shifts


The Common Core Standards and English Language Arts

The goal of the Common Core State Standards is to prepare students to be College and Career ready by the time they are done with grade 12. The Common Core State Standards prepare students for the real world in which we read a majority of informational text on a regular basis. A focus of the standards is on ensuring readiness for students as they progress through each grade level. Educators focus on the students' abilities to read and understand texts of steadily increasing complexity as they progress through school.

Instructional Shifts in The Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts

The common core standards for English Language Arts signify the need to change practice in areas of content, instruction and assessment. The change of practice creates an instructional shift. Instruction shifts occur because a change in current methodologies needs to occur. The Common Core State Standards have been newly implemented in 46 states.

Instructional Shift One K-5 Balancing Informational Text

  • The Common Core State Standards require that students to read a higher percentage of informational text, starting in kindergarten.
  • Students read informational text in kindergarten from grade five to gain vocabulary and knowledge of the world
  • Students gain a shared general knowledge in rich vocabulary by reading informational text in kindergarten through fifth grade.
  • Reading, writing, and speaking are grounded in evidence from informational text. Students are taught to read expository text.
  • Students can read online books that contain informational text. Educators and parents should encourage regular practice with complex text and academic language. The focus is to build knowledge through content rich expository text.

Instructional Shift Two Grades 6-12 Building Knowledge in the Disciplines 2074

Educators will teach the students to learn the language of their academic area and teach students to speak, read and write academically. In science and social studies students will be required to read more complex text, with a focus on acquiring the academic language of the discipline.

Instructional Shift Three Staircase of Complexity

  • Regular practice with complex text and academic language in each grade level creates a staircase of complexity.
  • Text complexity increases with year each of academic instruction in grade K-12.
  • The College and Career reader needs to understand a higher level of text complexity. The Common Core State Standards create a staircase of complexity for students as they progress through the grade levels.
  • Students need to develop proficiency in understanding complex text. Educators use complex text to teach students comprehension strategies and skills.

Instructional Shift 4 Text-based Answers

  • Close Reading is a central focus of the Common Core State Standards and necessary when teaching students to interact with complex text. Close reading is a careful, purposeful reading of a text. It requires rereading. Educators instruct students to read more complex text and reread it closely to understand the text. Students will be given text dependent questions that require them to go back into the text and search for answers.
  • The Common Core State Standards require that students provide evidence and justification for their answers.
  • There is a focus on text based answers that require students to carefully read and examine the text. Using the Common Core State Standards we teach students to use closely read to understand complex text.
  • Students are taught to answer text dependent questions. In close reading, students are required to think about the text and understand what they are reading. When teachers teach close reading they give students skills that will help students comprehend text throughout their lifetime.

This is an example of an informational text that students could read. Students can closely read the text and then answer text dependent questions. Find this book at


Are you interested in finding out more about the Common Core State Standards? Visit

Topics: Common Core, Big Universe News, Literacy

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