An English Language Arts Curriculum Framework for American Public Schools: A Model

Feb 8, 2013 by

Sandra Stosky – Purpose of this Curriculum Framework

This curriculum framework provides standards designed to guide reading and English teachers in the development of a coherent English language arts curriculum from PreK to 12. It is based on two premises: that learning in the English language arts should be cumulative and that the reading of increasingly challenging literary and non-literary works as well as the writing of increasingly extensive research papers are the basis for developing the independent thinking needed for self government.

The four discipline-based strands in this framework—Listening and Speaking, Language Study, Reading and Literature, and Research and Composition—are interdependent. At all grade levels, a sound English language arts curriculum integrates concepts and skills from all four strands.

A sound reading and literature curriculum also expects students to apply their language skills to increasingly challenging material linked in ways that promote cumulative learning. A coherent sequence of reading, research, and writing assignments ensures that students both broaden and deepen their base of literary/historical knowledge. It is this broadening and deepening knowledge base that stimulates intellectual growth and enhances their capacity for independent critical thinking.

Sources of this Curriculum Framework

The four discipline-based areas reflected in the 15 General Standards are broad statements of what students should know and be able to do in the English language arts. They are then broken down into Learning Standards for each grade from PreK to 12. These General Standards and Learning Standards come from a long-planned revision of the 2001 Massachusetts English Language Arts Curriculum Framework. The final draft of the revised framework, completed in November 2009, reduced the 27 General Standards in the 2001 framework to 15 in order to eliminate repetition and call attention to more demanding reading and literary study in the high
school grades; expressed the 2001 Learning Standards with greater clarity; and offered additional learning standards for beginning reading and spelling, a sequence of new standards for nonfiction reading in the elementary and middle grades, and a richer sequence for vocabulary development.

This draft framework was never sent to the board of elementary and secondary education for a vote to send it out for public comment. It went to the board in July 2010 only as a working draft ( and simply for the board’s information.

It accompanied Common Core’s final version of its English language arts standards and other materials expressly developed to support the board’s adoption of Common Core’s standards. The ten Guiding Principles come from the 2001 Massachusetts English Language Arts Curriculum Framework; they articulate a set of beliefs about the teaching, learning, and assessing of the English language arts. Appendix A is from the original, 1997 version of this framework; it is a suggested list of authors and illustrators who reflect our common literary and cultural heritage. Its K-8 list was reviewed, organized, and approved by the editors of The Horn Book using, as requested in 1997, one criterion: literary quality; the 9-12 list was reviewed by literary scholars from diverse backgrounds. Appendix B is from the 2001 curriculum framework and is a suggested list of twentieth-century American authors and illustrators, as well as of past and
present authors from other countries and cultures. Appendix C, a glossary explaining technical words and phrases, as well as Appendices D, E, and F, also come from the 2001 framework. Appendix G, which contains an evaluation of the 2010 draft revision of the 2001 Curriculum Framework, is from the Fordham Institute’s 2010 review of state standards.

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