Content-Area Literacy

Overview of the Common Core State Standards Initiatives for ELLs: A TESOL Issue Brief

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Summary: This issue brief, from the TESOL International Association, is an overview of the Common Core State Standards that also outlines some of the initiatives in place to address the needs of English learners (ELs) in relation to the Standards. Excerpts from this resource may be useful in study groups and professional development sessions focused on the needs of English learners, particularly within the contexts of assessment practices and content-area text complexity.

Original Date of Publication: March 2013


English as a second language (ESL) and bilingual education teachers in particular have a critical role to play in this new phase of educational reform. As the number of ELLs increases, particularly in states and communities affected by rapid demographic changes, ESL and bilingual teachers are well equipped to assist their content-area colleagues in charting this new territory for ELLs as defined by the CCSS.
In the history of education reform, teachers are too often an afterthought, which holds especially true for teachers who instruct ELLs. Yet the success of any educational policy hinges on its implementation. Policymakers are right to push for more rigorous standards, but without a robust effort to build all teachers’ capacity to teach ELLs, these students will not succeed.
In moving ahead with the implementation of the CCSS, states, districts, and schools must consider their capacity to address the needs of ELLs and the teachers who serve them.


Related Resources

Original Source: National Writing Project,

Copyright © 2013 TESOL International Association.
(2013, March). Overview of the Common Core State Standards Initiatives for ELLs. Alexandria, VA: Author.

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