Jul 5, 2019 by

“Common Core Most Certainly Does Not Support Phonics”

By Donna Garner


On 6.22.19 a blogger recently posted an article saying that since 2010, Common Core has required teachers to teach phonics. She asserts that because students’ reading skills have not improved across our country during that time, then the problem must be Common Core’s focus on phonics.

This blogger could not be more wrong!

This blogger’s problem is that she obviously does not know what the empirical, scientific, reading research on the teaching of phonemic awareness/decoding skills (phonics) involves.  

To help her and the general public to understand what is involved, they need to see a comparison. It is by comparing the authentic with the fake that the flaws in the fake will be revealed.


The English Success Standards is a set of curriculum standards for English / Language Arts / Reading (ELAR) —  Grades K – 12.  We classroom teachers who wrote it originally in 1997 (a.k.a. Texas Alternative Document for ELAR) were teaching real students in real classrooms all during the time that we were producing this document, and we wrote it on our own time and at our own expense.  In 2008, I (as the lead writer) updated the TAD and renamed it the English Success Standards.

We classroom teachers have never claimed any copyright nor attribution privileges, and any part of the English Success Standards may be used without seeking permission.  We teachers have continued to offer this document free of charge to anyone who wishes to use it to help educate students. It is the only document in America before or since that has been written by actual, practicing, classroom teachers.

The English Success Standards follows the empirical, scientific, reading research and is based upon the way students’ brains learn; and the brain is no different today than it was in 1997 (and before).  


To see what explicit, direct, systematic phonics looks like and the way that the elements in the English Success Standards grow in depth and complexity from one grade level to the next, please go to these pages in the document:  

Kindergarten – pp. 7 – 11

Grade 1 – pp. 14 – 18

Grade 2 – pp. 22 – 24

Grade 3 – pp. 29 – 31

Intervention Strategies for Phonemic Awareness – pp. 46 – 48

The English Success Standards is formatted in such a clear way that teachers can pick it up and start utilizing it from Day One.  The document tells teachers WHAT should be taught and then lays out clear expectations for the students to meet; but the document does not tell teachers HOW to teach the various elements. That is left to the creativity of the teachers themselves.  

The English Success Standards document strongly supports the Type #1 philosophy of education: 

11.4.13 — Type #1 vs. Type #2 Chart —



If we want to see the “Common Core Reading Standards,” this is the link to which we are supposed to go:   However, once there, we find no “Common Core Reading Standards.”  In fact, there is no such thing.  Instead we are greeted with this all-encompassing title:  “The Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects.”  

It is this all-encompassing title that has allowed the Common Core Type #2 philosophy of education to penetrate and saturate all school subjects, to decrease students’ academic achievement, and to indoctrinate students into the social justice agenda throughout our nation.  

*Math has its own set of Common Core Math Standards (, and these standards have driven down math proficiency exponentially in the United States since implemented.

To be clear, there are actually no distinct curriculum standards for Common Core English / Language Arts / Reading.  No such thing exists.  “The Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects” [CCSSELAL] throws all school subjects (except for math) into the same barrel.   

We have already looked at the phonics elements in the English Success Standards (Type #1 — ).

Now let’s try to compare them with the phonics elements in the Type #2 CCSSELAL:

One glance at the Common Core website, and we can already see the problem. Even if we look at the list posted on the right side of the page, where do we look to see the explicit reading standards?  Again, confusion abounds.

By clicking on the various titles on the right side of the webpage, we can see that the formatting and organization of the CCSSELAL are so confusing that classroom teachers would have to spend many hours in professional development to figure out the structure of the document and then how to proceed to utilize them.  (Of course, this has meant that countless highly paid consultants have been hired by school districts to try to help educators to make any sense out of this muddle.)

Yes, the term “phonics” is thrown loosely around in the CCSSELAL document in a generic manner; but there is no meaningful guidance given to teachers in the CCSSELAL which helps them to know what to do to implement explicit, systematic, phonics instruction that follows the empirical, scientific, reading research:  


Grade 1 —

Grade 2 —

Grade 3 —

Grade 4 —

Grade 5 —

ANSWER TO THE BLOGGER’S QUESTION: Teachers who have been following CCSSELAL since its inception and its implementation into the public schools HAVE NOT  been teaching their students explicit, direct, systematic phonics; and this is the real reason that students across America are unprepared to read proficiently and at a high reading level.  

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.