Letting the Text Take Center Stage: How the Common Core State Standards Will Transform English Language Arts Instruction
From the abstract: “With the Common Core State Standards, instruction in English language arts will dramatically change. Unlike prior state standards, these new standards place a greater emphasis on reading challenging texts. To that end, teachers will need to support students in paying closer attention to such texts. Instead of focusing on pre-reading activities that often have little to do with the text and may inadvertently deprive students of the opportunity to enjoy reading, teachers – thanks to these new standards – will be able to move ideas in both fiction and nonfiction texts back where they belong: at the center of the reading curriculum.”
Timothy Shanahan, Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the director of its Center for Literacy, writes a thoughtful article on the ways in which the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in English language arts (ELA) will change teacher instruction of the texts that students read in class. As the title states, the ELA CCSS places the text at the center of the reading curriculum because students will have to engage in reading challenging and complex texts, making meaning based on the evidence provided in the text itself. Some of Shanahan’s views may be controversial – particularly his statement that the ubiquitous practice of matching texts to readers has no strong evidence base in working – but Shanahan provides empirical evidence to support his views. This article offers some history, background, and theory for the ELA CCSS, and provides empirical evidence for the new methods of reading instruction that need to occur in classrooms. This article does not prescribe methods for teaching the ELA CCSS, but it is a useful starting place for educators who want to know about the role of text in the ELA CCSS and begin to think about how to begin to instruct students in the ELA CCSS.