About the Common Core Standards

"The United States was built on the notions of individualism and equality, and education is no exception."

The Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI)

  • The United States was built on the notions of individualism and equality, and education is no exception. Schools have fallen under the provenance of state and local control, resulting in a patchwork of systems which, while meeting the standard of valuing individuality, often fell short on equality. This achievement gap spurred a number of educational initiatives, beginning with the 1989 National Education Summit, continuing through the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act (Hedrick Smith Productions, 2005) and the creation of the Race to the Top fund (U.S. Department of Education, 2013). All of these reform efforts recognized the need for a rigorous academic curriculum and holding schools accountable for meeting those standards. However, the No Child Left Behind Act allowed each state to set its own standards (U.S. Department of Education, 2001), continuing to support local control without addressing the inequities resulting from increased mobility and our increasingly global society (Doorey, 2010).
  • The Common Core State Standards Initiative, led by the nation’s governors and education commissioners under the auspices of the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) was established to create a single set of educational standards for English language arts and mathematics for grades Kindergarten through 12 that outline the knowledge and skills students need at each grade level in order to meet the expectations for college or careers. The standards were developed in 2009 and to date have been adopted by 46 states and two territories. They represent a collaborative effort among states, teachers, researchers, higher education, and the general public (Common Core State Standards Initiative, 2012). 
  • A number of states have bilingual or dual-language programs whose students receive instruction in Spanish and need to participate in the same rigorous curriculum as their English-speaking peers. The California Department of Education (CDE) and the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) collaborated to translate and linguistically augment the State Common Core Standards through the Common Core Translation Project. This collaboration represents a significant contribution to equity in curriculum, instruction, and assessment for English language learners (San Diego County Office of Education, n.d.). 
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Spanish as a World Language

"There is a strong correspondence between the capacities of a college- and career-ready student and the Five Cs framework of the ACTFL Standards."

The Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts (ELA) and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects contain four strands: Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, and Language. These four strands are represented in the National Standards for Learning Languages by the Communication standards (interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational) and the level of proficiency demonstrated. In addition, the standards of the other four goal areas for learning languages – Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities – also support and are aligned with the Common Core. These standards describe the expectations to ensure all students are college-, career-, and world-ready.

Spanish as a World Language and the Common Core Standards

      • In 2010 the CCSSO published their version of the English Language Arts Common Core State Standards. This document, entitled "English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects," defines "Technical Subjects" as "engineering, technology, business, design, and other workforce-related subjects; technical aspects of wider fields of study such as art and music…"
      • The American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) has developed an Alignment of the National Standards for Learning Languages with the ELA Common Core Standards. As per ACTFL’s Understanding the Common Core State Standards: Defining a Role for World Languages webinar (broadcasted in September, 2012), and their interpretation of the above-cited CCSSO definition, World Languages can be classified under the category of "Technical Subjects."
      • What are the CCSS ELA Strands and how do they correlate to World Language?

        The Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts (ELA) and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects Strands are:

      • Reading (including Reading Foundational Skills)
      • Writing
      • Speaking and Listening
      • Language (including Language Forms and Mechanics)
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Spanish Language Arts

High-Quality Standards-Based Instruction for Spanish Speakers

The WIDA SLA Standards (2012)

Both instructional research and best classroom practices seem to support the notion that students who are Spanish native speakers learning Spanish benefit when they have foundational literacy skills in their first language, and when the curricula used to teach them incorporate their primary language and culture into the classroom.

This is why many U.S. institutions, such as the WIDA Consortium, a group of twenty-eight states that developed EL standards and assessments, have also developed Spanish Language Arts (SLA) Standards.  The WIDA SLA Standards are intended to support curriculum planning and instruction in schools that offer Spanish language arts. Also, WIDA has developed a Common Core Standards/WIDA EL Standards Crosswalk. 

For more information on the WIDA SLA Standards, visit:

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What are the plans to develop CCSS Assessments?

The next step in the implementation process of the CCSS is the creation of nationwide assessments that measure the attainment of the CCSS by students being taught with these standards in all fourty-four states that have adopted the ELA and Math CCSS. The federal Race to the Top initiative funded two groups of state Consortia for the specific purpose of financially and programmatically supporting the development and design of the next-generation assessment system. Each Consortium has been funded with more than $175 million to develop, pilot, and implement the necessary testing and instructional support systems.

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is one of these two Consortia, with a membership of twenty-three states plus the U.S. Virgin Islands. These are working together to develop a common set of K–12 assessments in English and math anchored in what it takes to be ready for college and careers. The PARCC assessments will be ready for states to administer during the 2014–15 school year.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) is the other state-led Consortium (currently with a membership of thirty-one states) that is developing assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards in English language arts/literacy and mathematics that are designed to help prepare all students to graduate high school college- and career-ready. The SBAC assessments will be ready for states to administer during the 2014–15 school year.


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Common Core en Español

The Estándares comunes para las artes del lenguaje en español y para la lecto-escritura en historia y estudios sociales, ciencias, y materias técnicas (2013), a joint project of the CCSSO, the California Department of Education and the San Diego County Office of Education, share the same content as their English counterparts, but in addition have added the capacity of complete mastery of two languages, efficiently expressing thoughts, reflections, and ideas in speech and writing. The one significant difference is that the Estándares comunes para las artes del lenguaje en español have been translated into Spanish, edited, and augmented with Spanish language arts and literacy content. A list of recommended of literature, equivalent to the Common Core Appendix B, will also be produced. (San Diego County Office of Education, 2012).

Click here to visit the Common Core translation Project website:

Informational and Literacy Texts in Spanish

Many states have developed rigorous curriculum and guidance tools to assist practitioners as they implement the new standards. Engage NY, a website sponsored by the New York Department of Education, has identified six instructional shifts necessary for successful implementation of the Common Core State Standards: Balancing Informational and Literary Texts, Knowledge in the Disciplines, Staircase of Complexity, Text-based Answers, Writing from Sources, and Academic Vocabulary (EngageNY, 2012). An examination of these new pedagogical demands and the decreased reading levels in K–12 textbooks (National Governors Association Center for Best Practices & Council of Chief State School Officers, Appendix A, 2010a) indicates that teachers will need to turn to authentic literature and innovative instructional strategies to ensure that their students achieve the goal of college and career readiness. 

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How We Can Help

Santillana USA offers world-class Spanish and dual-language literature and a wide range of instructional materials and services to help your students meet the challenges of the Common Core. The Common Core challenges all of us—students, teachers, and school systems—to become world-class readers, writers, and thinkers. If we are to meet the challenge, instruction needs to shift away from finding the right answer choice and defining words, toward using text evidence to support a position, inform others, or solve a real-world problem. High levels of literary analysis require that students and teachers examine high-quality literature. 

Click HERE to view some of Santillana's Informational and Literary Texts in Spanish

Instructional materials published by Santillana USA are standards based and research based. This applies to our Spanish as a world language elementary and secondary programs, Descubre el español con Santillana (K–5) and Español Santillana (6–12), as well as our Spanish language arts heritage and native speaker programs, Yabisi K–6 and En Espanol 7–12. These Santillana USA Spanish programs evidence their alignment and correlation to standards-based instruction through standards checklists (found in all Teacher Guides units and lessons), Scope and Sequence documents, and the specific correlations that we have produced specific correlations that we have produced detailing our programs' alignment to the STET Common Core.

All of the Santillana USA Spanish programs help students communicate in all modes of expression, developing listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills to ensure students use the language effectively. The goal is to develop literacy skills through culturally authentic fiction and nonfiction selections and readers, and to create meaningful cultural and content-area connections. This focus on developing language, literacy, and content knowledge in all dimensions of language allows for the alignment of our curriculum and content to the STET Common Core, which share the same focus and the same strands.

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