Report to the Steering Committee
From the ELA/ELL Content Panel
Dr. Bonne August
Mr. John Harmon
July 15, 2008
ELA/ELL Content Panel is a broadly representative group charged with reviewing
the current New York State Standards for English Language Arts and English Language
Learners. This review is the first stage of a multi-stage process, to include
revision of the Standards, followed by the design of materials for curricular
development, professional development, and assessments. Each stage will include
consultation with educators from all levels and regions across the state,
including post-secondary institutions, as well as with parents, employers, and
other stakeholders. Drawing on the best current knowledge and practice, the
goal is to develop and implement a set of standards for literacy, language, and
literature that will ensure that the students of
Panel met for three face-to-face meetings during two-day sessions held in
Panel has had the benefit of consultation with members of the Research Team,
led by Dr. Michael Kamil of
In its deliberations, the Panel considered several items in addition to its critical review of the most recent version of the 1996 New York State Standards, the 2005 English Language Arts Core Curriculum (Pre-Kindergarten-Grade 12).
This “Working Principles” document effectively captures the Panel’s
concerns and ideas and provides helpful guidance.
Research Forum held in
§ Public Forums. The input from the six
Public Forums held throughout
1. Technology: This was the subject most frequently
mentioned at the Forums. Technology has
developed well beyond what was imagined when the current standards were
developed. The new standards need to integrate technology in ways that provide
for advances in both current and future technologies.
2. Disciplinary and cross-disciplinary literacy standards: The Forums reinforced the concept that literacy standards should be incorporated
across the content areas.
3. Assessment: It
is essential that ELA assessments are fair, valid, and sensible. These assessments need to be based on current
research and best practice. They must
also be aligned with the standards and performance indicators. Furthermore,
Forum participants expressed a strong interest in multiple formative
assessments which provide a more comprehensive view of students’ progress and
4. Format: There is a critical need for a format
that will make the standards clear, less redundant, and readily accessible to
and usable by teachers, as well as parents and other constituencies.
Review of the 2005 English Language Arts
Core Curriculum (Pre-Kindergarten-Grade12) --Highlighting of Standards/ Performance Indicators and Portal Comments.
The April meeting of
the Panel was devoted largely to a structured highlighting of the 2005 version
of the standards and performance indicators, to gather panel members’ views
regarding what should be retained, excised, revised, or added. The highlighted
text was posted on the Portal in a color-coded print version. In addition, a
summary of comments on the Portal was prepared. These comments are extremely
useful in identifying the high level of consensus, as well as issues that need
further discussion. The findings of the review are incorporated into the
following recommendations and issues for further discussion.
The Panel reached consensus on the following major points:
1. One set of standards. Following the “Working Principles,” the panel recommends that a single set of standards should apply to all students, including English language learners, students in Native Language Arts (although some additional performance indicators may be needed to address features of the native language) or Special Education, struggling readers, advanced learners, and other students with special needs. The Panel remains committed to the scaffolding and support which some students will require to implement this recommendation.
2. Replace the items
currently designated as “standards.” Currently,
3. Use the “Core Performance Indicators” and “Qualities” from the State
assessment rubrics to develop revised standards. The Panel recommends that new standards be
drawn from the more global and overarching items now included in “Core
Performance Indicators” and the “Qualities” assessed in the rubrics of the
State-wide assessments. These standards could both indicate the important goals
of instruction in ELA and serve as major organizational categories for the more
specific performance indicators. Although final decisions have not yet been
made, based on its detailed review, the Panel agrees that a substantial
number—perhaps 50% or more--of the current performance indicators will
remain. These remaining items will be
much more serviceable, however, in a new, streamlined, and more clearly
organized structure. At the same time, some current performance indicators,
which relate to minor features, more appropriately belong with curriculum
4. Embed literacy into all of the content areas. Students need to
engage and produce a complete range of text and media genres across
disciplines. This goal cannot be achieved if literacy is viewed as developed
only in relation to English Language Arts. The standards of the other content
areas should be expanded to include the literacy demands specific to those
content areas with performance indicators specific to the literacy
requirements of those areas and of increasing difficulty in upper grades. In
recommending that literacy standards be applied across all of the content areas,
the Panel recognizes that a definition of literacy needs to be agreed upon and
that a framework of expectations and outcomes needs to be developed. The Panel also considered the reciprocal
effects of applying literacy across the content areas. The New York Library
Association (NYLA) 21st Century Information Literacy Standards offer
useful guidance in this area. When students practice literacy skills in the
content areas, their skills grow stronger, and they also acquire background
knowledge essential to increased comprehension. At the same time, their
learning in the content area is deepened by actively using the knowledge.
5. The study of literature and language should be emphasized and
elevated as an endeavor separate from literacy. Teachers of English above
the elementary level have traditionally assumed a dual responsibility,
providing instruction in literature and continuing to be responsible for more
advanced instruction in literacy. Although literacy will remain an important
part of the work of English, sharing responsibility for it with other content
areas should make possible a renewed emphasis on the value and importance of
literature in the curriculum, and standards and performance indicators should
be recast to support this emphasis. In so doing, we will provide new
opportunities for students to explore the creative arts and to develop as
creative thinkers, as well as critical thinkers and writers.
6. Add viewing and (re)presenting. The revised ELA/ELL standards should include “viewing” and “(re)presenting,” as discussed in the “Working Principles.” This addition is intended to include competencies related to the use of technology, media, and information literacy as well as more traditional representations in the form of illustration, graphical material, sounds, etc. Viewing and (re)presenting should be added as parallel domains to reading and writing and speaking and listening, with the understanding that the various receptive and expressive skills are often used in combination.
7. Format revision is essential. Implementing recommendations 2 and 3 will have the effect of reducing the size and complexity of the standards document. Although the format of the final document cannot be determined completely until content has been developed, we recommend that the formatting of the standards document be directed to achieve several goals:
o Increase the impact of the standards by creating a format that is truly useful to teachers and enables them to be thinkers about curriculum.
o Make the standards comprehensible to educators, parents, employers, public officials, and other constituencies by avoiding jargon and carefully defining important terms.
o Reduce unnecessary repetition of performance indicators, while underscoring appropriate connections and overlaps and indicating increasing expectations for student achievement.
o Ensure continuity across all documents related to the standards, so that there truly is one set of standards.
o Consider formatting that draws upon the power of modern technologies.
NYCC is currently researching standards documents from other states to assist us in developing a format that meets these goals.
OTHER RECOMMENDED ADDITIONS
These items represent areas where the Panel either needs further deliberation to reach consensus, or where our review has identified work that must be done to carry out the recommendations.
1. Viewing and (Re)presenting. This addition to the standards will require further considerations, including:
--information literacy, especially in the early grades, leading to the ability to distinguish
among and make good judgments about sources
--knowledge of how to use and participate in social networks
--awareness of audience and interaction
--ethics and an understanding of the distinctions between public and private
--incorporating and interpreting graphical and multi-media elements in
--Standards related to technology should be written in a way that enables revision as
--Should technology be separated or infused? At the elementary level in particular,
technology has to be infused, because most subjects are taught by the same teacher.
2. P-16: Connections between P-12 and college need to be made more explicit and systematic. We must include the ability to synthesize multiple texts, the ability to distinguish speakers and points of view in a document, and the ability to work collaboratively (required both for world of work and post-secondary education).
3. Support for English language learners, special populations, and students at different developmental levels: We endorse the concept of one set of standards for all students. In order to give each student the greatest possible opportunity to meet or exceed the standards, we are committed to developing a process that provides the appropriate instructional support required to address individual needs. This support may include additional instructional steps or intermediate performance indicators needed to measure progress. Students enrolled in ESL classes or Native Language Arts, for example, may enter the system at the elementary level or not until high school. They may arrive with a high degree of literacy in the home language or they may have literacy needs in that language. Differential instruction must be available to meet these different needs. Sound assessment strategies, especially formative strategies designed to measure growth and to inform instruction, must be implemented. The Core Curricula for English Language Learners (ELL) and for Native Language Arts (NLA), which implement the current ELA standards, provide helpful guidance and support materials. Like ELL and NLA students, those students in Special Education or who have special needs also require instruction that supports a wide range of abilities.
Research has identified three successful results in teaching ELL students:
1. Teaching students to read in their first language promotes higher levels of reading achievement in English. 2. What we know about good instruction and curriculum in general holds true for ELLs. 3. When instructing English learners in English, teachers must modify instruction to take into account students’ language limitations. The panel will continue to explore such research as it revises the ELA document.
4. Teacher knowledge The revised standards will require and should emphasize expanded teacher knowledge and skill, which should in turn inform teacher education, certification, and professional development. We do not currently train teachers in content areas and in the upper grades how to teach the literacy skills that we want them to teach students. Teachers at all levels also need to know about differential instruction and how to assist struggling readers. There will be increasing expectations, as well, for teacher knowledge and skill in the use of technology and the issues generated by the expansion of technology in society.
5. Is more specificity needed at the 9-12 level where there is
currently considerable repetition of performance indicators? The Research
Team reported that little is known about the developmental sequence of skills
from upper elementary school on; therefore, it is difficult to make explicit
distinctions between tasks or skills that are appropriate at, for example, 10th
grade versus 11th grade. Certainly, students should be strengthening
the higher order thinking skills of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation;
however, the differences among grades are often in the level of performance and
the types of texts. Embedding
literacy across content areas is
expected to contribute to students’ ability to comprehend a broader range of
texts because of increased background knowledge and knowledge of relevant
6. Assessments: Alignment of
student standards, assessments, curriculum, and teacher standards is critical
so that tests are fair and that “teaching to the test” does not impoverish the
curriculum. It is also essential to
communicate that performance indicators/standards are cumulative and recursive rather
than discrete and sequential. To the greatest degree possible, high stakes
decisions should be based on multiple measures and not a single measure. In
order to achieve this goal, it is
essential that teachers remain involved in the development of any new state
Beyond the state tests, assessment also includes formative assessments through which teachers and others observe and evaluate students’ learning of knowledge and skills and use their findings to tailor instruction at the individual, classroom, and local levels. Teacher preparation and professional development must ensure that teachers have command of a range of formative assessment tools.
7. Conventions and grammar: Although
the conventions of communication, including but by no means limited to grammar
and usage, often enhance the efficiency and power of communication, conventions
themselves do not constitute communication.
The Panel affirms the importance of learning to speak and write using
standard conventions. We agree that such
conventions will be reflected in the performance indicators. Effective
strategies for teaching students how to observe conventions and to write and
speak correctly are not part of this phase of the review, but will be important
to include in curriculum guidance as the new standards develop.
8. Reading-writing process: In
early grades the distinctions between expressive and receptive literacy are
stronger; however, by high school it becomes difficult to separate these
different aspects of literacy. We need
to state these connections explicitly and consider them in the development of
9. Early Childhood: This level is critical to the development of foundational skills, but is covered inadequately in the current document. SED is developing PreK-K standards. Staff members working on this project made a presentation to the Panel at the June 26 meeting. While the field of Early Childhood Education deals with children’s learning more holistically and uses “domains” rather than “content areas” to organize its framework for learning, it is clear that extensive reciprocal articulation with those responsible for this work in the State Education Department must be part of the standards revision.
The Panel has
reviewed early childhood standards (pre K-grade 3) with a view toward the
essential literacy skills needed by children in the early childhood years. The
compilation of the standards for early childhood will focus on best practices
in the nation. The revised standards will connect pre-school to kindergarten
and pre-K. The
The ELA/ELL Panel participated in a presentation by SED representatives whose focus is Early Childhood Education. The SED representatives recommend the following:
A P-16 approach to revising the ELA/ELL standards requires a critical analysis of not only the standards themselves, but the integration of prekindergarten and early childhood constructs.
Chapter 57 requires the Department to develop a discrete set of prekindergarten standards. Those standards must be based upon research in early childhood development which uses the domains of Cognition, Communication, Language and Literacy, Approaches to Learning, Social/Emotional, Physical/Health and Content/Knowledge of the World and Parenting Strategies. The standards will then be used to ensure that prekindergarten programs, regardless of setting, will be of high quality. The challenge will be integrating early childhood domains into all standard revisions, including the current ELA/ELL standards revisions. Consideration should be given to adding two areas to the ELA/ELL revision: Approaches to Learning and Social/Emotional. Also, second language skills for all children should be embedded throughout the work.
A transparent standard on reading must be developed as a discrete standard. The work the State Education Department and school districts have accomplished through Reading First has been significant. A standard incorporating phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension and motivation must be brought to the forefront so that high quality reading instruction in classrooms will be a focus.
10. Text based strategies: More specificity is needed in the performance indicators regarding text structure and texts. Text based strategies, such as compare and contrast and time sequence, need to be stated more explicitly, and more strategies for comprehending nonfiction texts are needed.
11. Terminology: Terminology
remains a crucial issue. We need a common language and nomenclature that is
readily understood. The
12. Motivation, engagement, and volition: The Panel regards these concepts, presented by the Research Team, as important factors for students in all content areas and all developmental levels. Motivation is the desire to start a project. Engagement is the degree of involvement in the work required. Volition is the willingness to complete the task. Educational psychology has begun to look at how these attributes develop, and there are now instruments to measure them. Motivation, engagement, and volition should be addressed in the standards/ student performance indicators and in teacher knowledge standards.
13. Ethics of communication/literacy belongs in all areas, including but not limited to writing, library research, and online research. This should be evident in the standards/performance indicators starting at the upper elementary level.
14. Understanding authorship and audience needs to be included more broadly at all levels.
NEXT STEPS: Moving from Review to Revision
Review the report on Benchmarking from Achieve, expected September 4, 2008.
Continue to work with 21st Century Learning to identify higher-order skills, and integrate the key themes into each of the appropriate academic areas.
Review the report from NYCC on format and terminology used in other states.
Review the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) framework for literacy.
Develop a plan to achieve the goal of a cross-disciplinary literacy
Finalize the standards and performance indicators.
Develop a preamble to the standards document. It is essential to explain
to teachers, administrators, parents, students, and the community the thinking
that went into the development of the new standards. Clear, well-articulated explanations of the
goals of the ELA/ELL standards need to be developed. Also, this preamble should help teachers
understand how to use the new standards.
Develop a strong, robust professional development system which will
support the educational community as it implements this first round of the new
standards. There should be an attention-
getting rollout of the document, as well as immediately available, high quality
professional development. This
professional development should include workshops, forums, print material,
web-based material, hotlines, and frequent feedback sessions.
Develop recommendations about the level of infrastructure needed to
support the effort to enable all students to meet, and possibly exceed, the
expectations of the new standards.
STANDARDS REVIEW INITIATIVE
Regent Saul B. Cohen
Chairperson, Standards Review Initiative
J. Sullivan, Ph.D.
Standards Review Steering Committee
Professor and Director, Center for Educational Policy & Practice
Content Panel Co-Chair
Vice President for Academic Affairs
Content Panel Co-Chair
Elizabeth F. Day
Chair of Business Journalism
Professor of Literacy
Kathleen A. Hinchman
Mr. Victor Jaccarino
Chairperson of English
Northern Catskills BOCES
7th Grade CTT
New York City
Department of Education
Mercades Qualls, Principal
New York City
Department of Education
Elizabeth Sheffer, Assistant
in Educational Services
Professor, Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences
Dr. Roland N.
Patterson, PS 203X
New York City
Department of Education
 The 2005 “ELA Core Curriculum” adapts the 1996 Standards to meet the NCLB requirement for a grade by grade listing of standards but does not substantively change the 1996 Standards.