Criteria for Common Core-Aligned ELA/Literacy Resources, Grades 3-12
Developed by the authors of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), these criteria are designed to guide publishers and curriculum developers as they work to ensure alignment with the standards in ELA and literacy for History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects.
The criteria articulated below concentrate on the most significant elements of the Common Core State Standards and lay out the implications of aligning materials with the standards. These guidelines are not meant to dictate classroom practice, but rather to ensure that teachers receive effective tools. The criteria are intended to direct curriculum developers and publishers to be both purposeful and strategic in what to include and what to exclude in instructional materials. By underscoring what matters most in the standards, the criteria illustrate what shifts must take place in the next generation of curricula, including paring away elements that distract or are at odds with the Common Core State Standards.
At the heart of these criteria are instructions for shifting the focus of literacy instruction to center on careful examination of the text itself. In aligned materials, work in reading and writing (as well as speaking and listening) must center on the text under consideration. The standards focus intently on students’ reading closely to draw evidence from the text and are emphatic about students’ reading texts of adequate range and complexity. The
criteria outlined below therefore revolve around the texts that students read and the kinds of questions students should address as they write and speak about them.
The standards and these criteria sharpen the focus on the close connection between comprehension of text and acquisition of knowledge. While the link between comprehension and knowledge in reading science and history texts is clear, the same
principle applies to all reading. The criteria make plain that developing students’ prowess at drawing knowledge from the text itself is the point of reading. Reading well means
gaining the maximum insight or knowledge possible from each source. Student knowledge drawn from the text is demonstrated when the student uses evidence from the text to support a claim about the text. Hence evidence and knowledge link
directly to the text.
This document has two parts: The first articulates criteria for ELA materials in Grades 3–12 and the second for history/social studies, science, and technical materials in Grades 6–12. Each part contains sections discussing the following key criteria:
I. Text Selection
- Text Complexity
- Range and Quality of Texts
II. Questions and Tasks
- High-Quality Text-Dependent Questions and Tasks
- Cultivating Students’ Ability To Read Complex Texts Independently
III. Academic Vocabulary
IV. Writing to Sources and Research
- Writing to Sources — a Key Task
- Extensive Practice with Short, Focused Research Projects
The criteria for ELA materials in Grades 3–12 have one additional section:
V. Additional Key Criteria for Student Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking
- Reading Complex Texts with Fluency
- Increasing Focus on Argument and Informative Writing
- Engaging in Academic Discussions
- Using Multimedia and Technology Skillfully
- Covering the Most Significant Grammar and Language Conventions