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
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
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.