Challenges and Opportunities for Language Learning in the Context of the CCSS and the NGSS
The Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards, hereafter referred to as “the standard”, represent a significant change in standards-based reform in education. Their release has generated considerable interest among education stakeholders, with 45 out of 50 states now having formally adopted these standards. To leverage this strong interest in the standards for greater content learning and language development opportunities for English learners (ELs), Stanford University recently launched the Understanding Language initiative. The initiative, cochaired by Kenji Hakuta and Mara Santos, is funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Its goal is to increase educators’ awareness of the critical role language plays in literacy, learning, and assessment in the content areas. Working in close partnership with schools and districts, the initiative promotes the ideas that (a) language and content are inseparable, (b) learning the language of each academic discipline is essential to learning disciplinary content, and (c) English language proficiency and disciplinary knowledge can be developed simultaneously in the context of content instruction. This column highlights the challenges and opportunities that the standards present for language development in the context of content area learning.