English Language Arts
Guiding Principles for English Language Arts and Literacy Programs
Guiding Principle 1: Students should receive explicit instruction in skills, including phonics and decoding. Explicit skill instruction is especially important in narrowing opportunity gaps.
Guiding Principle 2: To become successful readers, students need to develop a rich academic vocabulary and broad background knowledge.
Guiding Principle 3: Educators should help students develop a love of reading by:
• Selecting high-quality works of literature and nonfiction.
• Reading aloud in class.
• Providing students with ample opportunity and encouragement for sustained independent reading, both for school and on their own.
Guiding Principle 4: Students should be exposed to complex and challenging texts at their grade level and above, with extra support and scaffolding as needed, reflecting high expectations for all students.
Guiding Principle 5: Students should read a diverse set of authentic texts balanced across genres, cultures, and time periods. Authentic texts are intact and unadapted texts in their original complexity; they are texts composed for purposes other than being studied in school.
Guiding Principle 6: Students should have frequent opportunities for discussing and writing about their readings in order to develop critical thinking skills and to demonstrate understanding.
Guiding Principle 7: Reading well-crafted texts is an essential foundation for developing effective writing skills.
Guiding Principle 8: Developing the ability to write well demands regular practice across multiple forms and genres of writing and opportunities to write for a variety of audiences, including expository, analytical, persuasive, narrative, and creative writing, as well as explicit instruction in vocabulary and standard English conventions.
Guiding Principle 9: Educators and families should view each other as resources who are both invested in supporting students’ skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening.
Guiding Principle 10: Social and emotional learning can increase academic achievement, improve attitudes and behaviors, and reduce emotional distress. Students should practice recognizing aspects of themselves in texts (self-awareness), struggling productively with challenging texts (self-management), tailoring language to audience and purpose (social awareness), grappling vicariously with choices faced by others (responsible decision making), and collaborating respectfully with diverse peers (relationship skills).
Guiding Principle 11: Educators should select works of fiction and nonfiction that instill in students a deep appreciation for art, beauty, and truth, while broadening their understanding of the human condition from differing points of view. Reading, discussing, and writing about high-quality prose and poetry should also help students develop empathy for one another and a sense of their shared values and literary heritage, while learning about who they are as individuals and developing the capacity for independent, rigorous thinking.