ELA instructional shifts

The Common Core State Standards required English language arts teachers to reexamine their approaches to ensure they were incorporating complex texts, including both creative and content-rich informational texts, and helping students build text-dependent arguments. A Thomas B. Fordham Institute report, based on teacher surveys from 2012 and 2017, shows how their instructional practices have changed.

Here are a few of their findings:

  • In 2017, 54% of teachers reported choosing texts based on students’ reading levels. This number was up from 39% in 2012, even though the standards recommend using grade-level texts.
  • When asked to compare their current practices to those of a few years ago, 75% of respondents said they were asking more questions requiring textual evidence, 48% said they were discussing authors’ word choice more often, and 53% said students’ ability to cite textual evidence was better than a few years ago.
  • When asked about standards implementation, 54% said that not enough attention was being given to helping students become better writers. And 56% said not enough attention was being given to building students’ knowledge of basic facts.
  • In 2017, respondents said they devoted 41% of their time to fiction texts (down from 54% in 2012), 24% to literary nonfiction (up from 21%), and 35% to informational texts (up from 26%).
  • When asked about classic texts, 40% of respondents said they were using them less, 9% were using them more, and 43% were using them about the same amount. For texts reflecting students’ cultures, 37% were using them more, 9% were using them less, and 52% were about the same.

Source: Griffith, D. & Duffett, A.M. (2018, July). Reading and writing instruction in America’s schools. Washington, DC: Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

TERESA PRESTON (tpreston@pdkintl.org) is managing editor, content, of Phi Delta Kappan.

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