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How California's Standards are raising the bar for writing
MONDAY, MAY 04, 2015 10:38 AM

The vast majority of states in the U.S. have adopted the Common Core State Standards as a way to improve their children's education and provide better college- and career-readiness skills and knowledge. California adopted the CCSS in August of 2010, but the state made some additions based on standards that had already been implemented state-wide by the California Department of Education. The state's additions in every subject, including mathematics, reading, language, writing and more, ensure California's children are prepared for their Core-aligned exams, but also for their futures. For writing in particular, the Common Core identifies four areas of writing that should develop as children advance through elementary, middle and high school. Here's how California is raising the bar for each of these areas of writing, over and above what's laid out in the CCSS:

Text types and purposes
The first area of writing established by the Common Core is the types of texts students should be able to write, and the purposes behind writing them. There are three types of writing that the Common Core focuses on - informative, argumentative and narrative - and California's additions affect both informative and argumentative writing, especially in the later school years.

In middle school, California's CCSS writing Standards are more focused on informative texts. Beginning in grade six, and lasting through middle and high school, California expects students to learn and be able to write thesis statements, a concept that isn't mentioned in the Common Core. The CCSS requires students to introduce a topic clearly for an informative paper, but doesn't mention thesis statements. However, they are key to college success. In eighth grade, California adds to the types of informative texts students should be writing. For instance, they include "career development documents," meaning job applications and other basic business texts. These writing skills are crucial for career readiness. 

For 11th and 12th grade students, the California Common Core introduces the idea of using rhetorical devices in argument writing to support their viewpoints. In other words, students should be able to use devices like logical reasoning, emotional appeals, anecdotes and more to make their points clearly and effectively.

Production and distribution of writing
The production and distribution of writing Standards are meant to help students develop their writing and keyboarding skills, as well as their abilities to organize their writing clearly. California makes a few additions within the production and distribution area, but the most major change is that the state expects students to begin working on their development and organization in second grade, rather than third grade (as required by the Common Core). This means California students will get a head start in learning how to organize paragraphs and ideas to effectively make a point or provide information.

Research to build and present knowledge
California's additions to the ELA research Standards of the Common Core include requiring students to use footnotes and endnotes to cite their sources within the text. This is an important addition for college readiness, as most writing styles (including MLA, APA and Chicago) use these types of citations. 

Range of writing
The Common Core's range of writing area asks students to "write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two)" to develop a variety of different styles beginning in grade three. California requires this of students starting in grade two, so that children can begin to understand the differences in how to develop specific texts. 

All of these additions and adjustments made by California to the Common Core State Standards are very important for helping students understand what they need to know to be successful in college and careers. 




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