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Reading & Language Arts

Parent Guide Resources: New Expectations and Standards

Alabama Course of Study:  English Language Arts

English language arts literacy is the gateway to succeeding in the twenty-first century. The challenges of living in a diverse, global society require a strong foundation for lifelong learning. To this end, the state of Alabama is committed to maintaining a level of academic rigor that challenges all students. To efficiently lead Alabama's students into literacy commensurate with the grade level, the curricular framework for learning requires students to be able to read, interpret, and comprehend a variety of texts; effectively communicate through writing and speaking; manage and apply information; and use critical thinking to gather new information and answer their own questions and those posed to them.

The focus of this framework is to support and connect, as educators and researchers, what students can achieve in the English language arts strands of reading, literature, writing and language, research and inquiry, and oral and visual communication. The purposes of reading vary throughout an individual's life. Beginning readers derive meaning, pleasure, and a sense of accomplishment from unlocking words on a page. As students progress through school, reading skills are essential for success in all areas of the curriculum, and this necessity extends to college, the work environment, and all aspects of daily living. Individuals also continue to enjoy reading and use it to connect to others in society. Literature from various cultures and periods provides a bridge from basic print awareness to the more rigorous task of literary analysis. Through the study of literature, students can vicariously experience many places, times, and situations, thus broadening their understanding of mankind throughout history.

Writing is closely related to reading and requires the integration of the conventions of language. Students in all grades need the opportunity to expand writing skills through utilization of the steps of the writing process and through a variety of writing activities and genres. Moreover, the acquisition of grammar and usage skills is not an end in itself. The real emphasis is the application of these skills by means of authentic writing experiences.

In this century, more emphasis will be placed on research and inquiry, the English language arts strand that further synthesizes the skills of reading, writing, and grammar. It is essential that students acquire a wide range of skills for asking questions, finding information, and solving problems. The standards in the research and inquiry strand provide a framework for students to refine critical-thinking skills and to manage problems encountered both during and after their school years. With the advancement of technology, students have additional means for expressing personal ideas and for relating information gained through research and inquiry. Written and oral presentation of this information is the final step that fuses skills from all other English language arts strands. Oral and visual communication is an essential component of our society. Students may use these skills to present the results of research; to communicate effectively with family members, friends, classmates, and teachers; to perform job tasks; or to participate in recreational interests such as theatre.

The English language arts program is designed to prepare students for the challenges of the future. Through high expectations and coordination of English language arts instruction in Grades K-12, teachers are able to lead Alabama's students toward excellence in literacy. With the combined, sustained efforts of all stakeholders, Alabama's students are able to achieve language arts literacy and confidently assume their roles as productive citizens in a diverse society.