In July 2010, the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts (ELA) and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects. The Massachusetts Curriculum for ELA represents both the national Common Core State Standards and standards and features specific to Massachusetts (those identified by the letters 'MA'). It should be noted that while the state curriculum serves academic standards to be met, there are limitations. Most notably, the state curriculum does not describe or mandate how to teach each topic or even the best practices regarding 'effective' teaching in each area. Also, the standards do not define the intervention methods that may be necessary to support children that are well-below average or the full range of supports appropriate for English language learners or students with special needs. Still, the curriculum is significant in that it describes what students should learn and when they should learn it. Here are some (i.e. not all) of the reading standards for literature by grade for students at the elementary level:
- With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
- Ask and answer questions about unknown words in a text.
- Recognize common types of texts (storybooks, poems, etc.).
- With prompting and support, name the author and illustrator of a story and define the role of each in telling the story.
- Identify and respond to characteristics of traditional poetry for children: rhyme, regular beats, and repetition of sounds, words and phrases (MA).
- Actively engage in group reading activities with purpose and understanding.
- Retell stories, including key details and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson
- Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.
- Identify words and phrases in stories that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses.
- Explain the major differences between books that tell stories and books that give information, drawing on a wide reading of a range of text types.
- Identify characteristics commonly shared by folktales and fairy tales (MA).
- With prompting and support, read prose and poetry of appropriate complexity for grade 1.
- Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when and how to demonstrate to understanding of key details in a text.
- Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.
- Describe the overall structure of the story, including how the beginning introduces the story and the ending concludes the action.
- Acknowledge differences in the points of view of characters, including by speaking in a different voice for each character when reading dialogue aloud.
- Identify dialogue as words spoken by characters (usually enclosed in quotation marks) and explain what dialogue adds to a particular story or poem (MA).
- By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories and poetry, in the grades 2-3 text complexity proficiently with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
- Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.
- Describe characters in a story (e.g. their traits, motivations or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.
- Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, distinguishing literal from non-literal language.
- Distinguish their own point of view from that of the narrator or those of the characters.
- Identify elements of fiction (e.g. characters, setting, plot, problem, solution) and elements of poetry (rhyme, rhythm, figurative language, alliteration, onomatopoeia) (MA).
- By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas and poetry, at the high end of the grades 2-3 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
- Determine a theme of a story, drama or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.
- Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including those that allude to significant characters found in mythology (ex. Herculean).
- Explain major differences between poems, drama and prose and refer to the structural elements of poems (e.g. verse, rhythm, meter) and drama (e.g. casts of characters, settings, descriptions, dialogue, stage directions).
- Make connections between the text of a story or drama and a visual or oral presentation of the text, identifying where each version reflects specific descriptions and directions in the text.
- Locate and analyze examples of similes and metaphors in stories, poems, folktales and plays and explain how these literary devices enrich the text (MA).
- By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poetry, in the grades 4-5 complexity band proficiently with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
- Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
- Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g. how the characters interact).
- Explain how a series of chapters, scenes or stanzas fits together to provide the overall structure of a particular story, drama or poem.
- Locate and analyze examples of foreshadowing in stories, poems, folktales, and plays (MA).
- Compare and contrast stories in the same genre (e.g. mysteries and adventure stories) on their approaches to similar themes and topics.
- By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas and poetry, at the high end of the grades 4-5 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
Massachusetts Department of Education