Common Core is headed to a classroom near you. According to the Common Core homepage, 45 of the 50 United States have adopted these national standards. State educational departments are now working on how to go about implementing these new standards.
But while the Common Core spells out the English language standards for regular education students, the new guidelines allow states to create their own protocols for English Language Learners and students with IEPs.
One thing is clear with regard to Common Core and ELLs — the focus on English education is going to be on academic language acquisition rather than grammar instruction and social language development. And while switching to Common Core is going to be a huge undertaking for all teachers and administrators, those who work with ELLs will need to focus their attention on reading and evaluating academic texts across all subject areas. No longer is language instruction solely the responsibility of the ESL teacher. Common Core will almost require constant collaboration between the content teachers and the ESL teachers.
One effort underway to help parse the components of Common Core is at the World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment consortium, otherwise known as WIDA. The organization — which currently has 28 member states — is working on aligning its guidelines to the Common Core standards. WIDA’s new guidelines are due out this summer when the consortium will begin offering trainings on the new standards.
There’s also a team out of Stanford University led by Dr. Kenji Hakuta that will provide free resources to educators and administrators including example lessons to help teachers understand how to design units for ELLs using Common Core standards. Stay tuned for more information. I’ll be monitoring Stanford’s new Website, Understanding Language, and providing links and information.