Curriculum Development for English and Language Arts (ELA)
The Delaware State Standards for English and Language Arts define general, cross-disciplinary literacy expectations that must be met for students to be prepared to enter college and workforce training programs ready to succeed. By emphasizing required outcomes, a great deal is left to the discretion of curriculum developers and teachers to determine how these outcomes should be reached. Furthermore, while the standards make reference to some particular forms of content, including mythology, foundational U.S. documents, and Shakespeare, they do not—indeed, cannot—enumerate all or even most of the content that students should learn.
The Delaware State Standards for English and Language Arts must therefore be complemented by a well-developed, content-rich curriculum consistent with their defined expectations.
(Delaware English, Language Arts Standards, Key Design Considerations)
The State of Delaware does not mandate the use of any particular curriculum. As always, local education agencies can select and/or develop their own materials. However, the curriculum must be aligned to the appropriate grade-level standards.
The Role of the ELA/Literacy Standards in the ELA Curriculum
The transition to the Common Core state standards from the earlier ELA standards in 2010 was dramatic and required all educators to reconsider the approaches to ELA curriculum, instruction, and assessment with a blank slate. Because these new standards are relatively brief, enmeshed with each other and work better in their totality than as opposed to the lists of individual grade-level equivalents in the previous standards. As a consequence, practices such as prioritizing specific standards for pacing guides and unit planning no longer apply. Similarly, assessing and reporting grades for students’ achievement on individual standards is outdated as well.
The Delaware Common Core State Standards for ELA/Literacy also set expectations for the complexity of texts students need to be able to read rather than focusing exclusively on literacy skills. They recognize, in accordance with the science of reading comprehension, that in order for students to make the cognitive moves outlined in the standards, they need to apply them with a text that is sufficiently complex and engaging.
The following resources provide guidance in navigating this vital sea change in approach to ELA/Literacy instruction. They also include specific recommendations for stopping common instructional practices that act as barriers to accessing grade level materials.
David and Meredith Liben on a Text First Approach In this 10-minute video, Student Achievement Partners Senior Content Specialist for Literacy and Language Arts, David Liben, and Director of Literacy and English Language Arts, Meredith Liben share their thoughts on a text-first approach to literacy instruction and analysis of student performance.
Placing Text at the Center of the Standards-Aligned ELA Classroom This paper intends to articulate the vision of what an evidence-based model for text-centered instruction looks like, and to make the case for interim assessment reporting categories that would help drive that instruction.
A Short Guide to Placing Text at the Center of Learning This supplemental, quick reference guide addresses both short and long-term strategies for improving reading skills framed as appropriate instructional responses to interim assessment results. It is based on research outlined in Placing Text at the Center of Standards-Aligned ELA Classroom.
The Required Shifts in ELA Instruction
The following instructional shifts serve as the north star when facilitating excellent English/Language Arts instruction. Careful, daily attention to these shifts in instructional practice is what leads to the acquisition of the end of year goals articulated by the Delaware State Standards.
Complexity: Practice regularly with complex text and its academic language
Evidence: Ground reading, writing, and speaking in evidence from text, both literary and informational
Knowledge: Build knowledge through content-rich nonfiction
College and Career-Ready Shifts in ELA/Literacy - A summary of the Shifts in ELA/literacy that make the Delaware State Standards different from other standards. There are resources to help build and apply understanding for each of the Shifts.
Curricular Assessment Tools
A tool for evaluating a comprehensive textbook or textbook series for alignment to the Shifts and major features of the ELA/Literacy standards. For use with ELA/literacy materials for grades K-2 or 3-12.
This rubric is a tool for evaluating reading/language arts instructional materials for grades K–5. Based on rigorous research, the rubric can be used by state-, district-, and school level practitioners and by university faculty who review instructional materials.
Explains the elements of the TriState Quality Rubric and the review process to evaluate the quality of lessons and units for ELA/Literacy.
A tool for evaluating grade or course-level assessments for alignment to the Shifts and major features of the standards.
This tool is for evaluating single literacy tasks in ELA, Social Studies/History, and Science/Technical Subjects to the shifts in instruction required to meet the Delaware State literacy standards.
EdReports is an independent non-profit designed to improve K-12 education that provides free reviews of K-12 instructional materials based on alignment to college and career-ready standards.
From EdReports - A guide to helps districts analyze how well instructional materials are aligned and what adjustments may need to be considered in order to ensure all students have access to high quality resources.
From EdReports - inventory to assist districts with making informed decisions regarding adoption decisions.
The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) reviews the existing research on different programs, products, practices, and policies in education.
Provides qualitative and quantitative measures and guides for choosing text for instruction.
The Lexile Framework is a way to match readers with text. Lexile levels help to address the quantitative leg of the text complexity model.
Implementing Early Literacy
Foundational skills standards are essential for students in kindergarten through second grade and are embedded in all college- and career-ready standards, including the Delaware English Language Arts/Literacy Standards. Foundational skills standards include print concepts, phonological awareness, phonics and word recognition, and fluency.
The resources provided here are meant to assist educators with implementing foundational skills instruction in Delaware schools.
- Foundational Skills in the Standards
- Achieve the Core resources and protocols that can be immediately implemented to support foundational skills instruction.
- Lexile measures for beginning readers
- K-2 Read Aloud Project from Achieve the Core
- ELA/Literacy Lessons from Achieve the Core
- K-2 Foundational Skills Guidance Documents