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 How New Standards Will Affect English Classes

​Over the next few years, English language arts classes across the county will include more informational reading and critical thinking.

The changes are tied to the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, which the California Board of Education approved in 2010.

Though the new standards aren’t drastically different from the previous set of state standards, they will require more problem solving, collaborative learning and a higher level of mastery in key concepts. The Common Core State Standards don’t tell educators how to teach. Instead, they set clear guidelines for what students are expected to know in each grade level by the end of each school year.

“Teachers will be able to spend more time on key topics and go into more depth,” said Kira Shearer, a coordinator of language arts with the San Diego County Office of Education. “It won’t be a race to cover so many things.”

One of the biggest changes will be an increase in reading and analyzing informational writing. The new standards call for more of a balance between fiction and nonfiction reading. An example of this would be using historical nonfiction or news articles to help students understand the context of a novel they are reading.

This will help prepare students more for the reading demands in college or at work, which tend to be denser, informational text. The Common Core State Standards create a staircase of increasing text complexity that requires students to apply their skills to more and more complex texts each year.

The standards also call for reading and writing lessons to be incorporated into science and history classes.

The standards are designed to ensure that students graduate from high school prepared for college or the workforce.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort that established a single set of clear educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts and mathematics that 45 states, including California, have voluntarily adopted.