Authored by Brenda J. Overturf, Ed.D
Co-Chair, IRA's Common Core State Standards Committee
With over 90% of states, districts, and territories involved in the Common Core Standards Initiative, implementation is proceeding rapidly. It's an exciting but confusing time, with thousands of educators working across the U.S. to interpret the Standards and find effective instructional methods that work for their students. In the midst of such a wide-spread effort, it is natural for misconceptions to occur. The International Reading Association's Common Core Standards Committee, made up of a group of board-appointed literacy experts representing various viewpoints and professional positions, have developed a white paper to address some of the most glaring misconceptions that pertain to implementation of the literacy standards.
The IRA Literacy Implementation Guidance to Support the ELA Standards is being used extensively to clarify misconceptions and provide further information about the literacy focus in the Standards. The IRA Guidance document addresses seven key areas:
- Use of challenging texts
- Beginning readers and foundational skills
- Disciplinary literacy
- Teaching diverse learners.
The document ties research-based literacy practices with the expectations of the English Language Arts and Literacy Standards. For example, one common misconception about the ELA Standards is that the only reading instruction permitted is that of "close reading" of challenging texts. The IRA Guidance document clarifies information about the "close, attentive reading" referred to in the ELA Standards, describes the use of challenging texts in the classroom as only one part of instruction, and verifies that strategic comprehension instruction is still an important part of reading development for most students.
IRA did not produce this document in a vacuum. The Guidance has been vetted and approved by the Council of Chief State School Officers (the primary organization that is leading the Standards initiative) and the CCSSO English Language Arts State Collaborative on Assessment and Student Standards (SCASS), which is made up of representatives from various state departments of education who are responsible for carrying out the ELA Standards in their state. Along with IRA books focused on the Common Core, the Guidance document provides assistance to teachers as they work to integrate research-based literacy instruction as well as the increased expectations of the Standards.