Standards

The Back Story

In June, 2010 the Utah State Board of Eduction adopted the k-12 Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects as developed by  the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Once that decision was made, Jordan School District Secondary Language Arts Department pushed forward to introduce and implement these standards in the district’s middle and high schools.

The following is the history of the implementation process:

  • Winter 2011:
    • A task force of middle school ELA  teachers  unwrap the English Language Arts standards for grades 7, 8, and 9 in order to create student learning outcomes in the form of “I Can” statements.
    • The task force organizes the standards and SLOs into theme-based units, using the Common Core Mapping Initiative as a guide.
    • The team creates enduring understanding statements and essential questions associated with unit themes and topics.
    • Finally, they gather resources to support the thematic units.
  • Spring 2011:
    • The JSD Secondary Language Arts Core Standards site is launched.
    • Task-force members prepare and facilitate professional development presentations to train all middle school teachers for Core implementation.
  • School year of 2011-12:
    • Seventh, eighth, and ninth grade teachers implement the new core in their English Language Arts and Reading classes.
    • Continuous professional development is offered throughout the year via four PLC meetings facilitated by an implementation team of teachers.
    • Teachers respond to a survey evaluating their implementation experiences.
  • Winter 2012:
    • A task force of high school ELA  teachers  unwrap the English Language Arts standards for grades 10, 11, and 12 in order to create student learning outcomes in the form of “I Can” statements.
    • The task force organizes the standards and SLOs into units
    • The team creates optional motifs and topics that can be connected to the units, thus creating a context within which the standards may be taught.
    • Corresponding enduring understanding statements, essential questions, and resources are created.
  • Spring 2012:
    • All units and resources are published and shared with Jordan District ELA teachers.
    • Task-force members prepare and facilitate professional development presentations to train all middle school teachers for Core implementation.
  • School Year 2012-13:
    • Tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grade teachers implement the new core in their English Language Arts classes.
    • Professional development involving the district secondary literacy specialist and high and middle school PLCs continue
  • School Year 2013-14:
    • The year of the Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence (SAGE) pilot that replaces Criterion-reference Test.SAGE Time Line

The Rationale

  • Why Units?
    • Units break standards down into manageable bits. It’s overwhelming to be handed a new core and told to “teach this”.
    • Units ensure that each standard of the core has place in the yearly curriculum. If followed, teachers will have contact with, and can incorporate all standards into their instruction.
    • Units provide continuity among teachers, which is especially difficult for ELA skills. English Language Arts does not have a specific order of operations or a chronological progression that can be easily divided into segments for a test. Instead, it focuses on skills that under-gird all other disciplines and cover many content areas. The standards that are listed in these units can be taught any time during the school year because they are not connected to content. Once teachers determine their placement, they can decide what students should know and be able to do at a given point in the year.
    • Using units to identify what students should know and be able to do at any given point in the year makes it easier to administer common formative assessments that can inform teachers about student learning and guide instruction.
    • Units ensure that when students change classes or “teacher shop” at the semester, they do not repeat or miss skills they may have already studied.
    • Units can help teachers manage the availability of materials. Because units are not dependent upon content, two teachers can teach the same unit at the same time using two different books. If the same book is desired for a unit, then teachers can stagger units to match the number of books available.
  • Why Use Themes, Motifs, or Topics?
    • The process model – which is optional, but preferred – encourages a variety of rich language arts experiences within the context of a universal theme with accompanying essential questions that stimulate reflection and may cause students to re-evaluate and adjust their thinking over time.
    • A process-model seeks to actively engage students in reading and writing and allows for a broader definition of literacies and texts (Grierson, Nokes, Draper. Re-Imagining Content-Area Literacy Instruction, p. 116).

Aligning to ACT