Common Core State Standards: Aligned with Reading Apprenticeship


I was recently asked “Does Reading Apprenticeship address the new Common Core State Standards?

The answer is “Yes!” In fact, they cite our work multiple times in the Standards, especially in relation to the importance of providing students with supported instructional experiences with sufficiently complex texts to build their academic reading skills.

What are the Common Core State Standards?

The Common Core State Standards clearly define the knowledge and skills students should obtain during their K-12 education so that they graduate from high school able to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing academic college courses and in workforce training programs. For the first time, emphasis is placed on meeting literacy standards in each of the core academic disciplines.

The Common Core State Standard (CCSS)

  • are aligned with college and work expectations;
  • ensure consistent expectations regardless of a student’s zip code;
  • provide educators, parents, and students with clear, focused guideposts;
  • include rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order skills;
  • emphasize literacy across all core academic disciplines;
  • build upon strengths and lessons of current state standards;
  • are internationally benchmarked, so that all students are prepared to succeed in our global economy and society; and
  • are based on evidence and research.

The development of the standards was coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and other experts. The federal government was not involved in the development of these standards and individual states choose whether or not to adopt them. To date 48 states, the District of Columbia, and two territories have signed on to the CCSS Initiative.

How do the Common Core State Standards Align with Reading Apprenticeship?

Compare this excerpt from the Common Core State Standards with the description of Reading Apprenticeship that follows. People who know Reading Apprenticeship will not be surprised by the close alignment. 

Students who meet the Standards readily undertake the close, attentive reading that is at the heart of understanding and enjoying complex works of literature. They habitually perform the critical reading necessary to pick carefully through the staggering amount of information available today in print and digitally. They actively seek the wide, deep, and thoughtful engagement with high-quality literary and informational texts that builds knowledge, enlarges experience, and broadens worldviews. They reflexively demonstrate the cogent reasoning and use of evidence that is essential to both private deliberation and responsible citizenship in a democratic republic.  In short, students who meet the Standards develop the skills in reading, writing, speaking, and listening that are the foundation for any creative and purposeful expression in language.”

~Common Core State Standards for English/Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical
(2010, page 3)

Reading Apprenticeship professional development helps high school teachers prepare their students to meet Common Core language arts standards across the English, science, and history/social studies curricula. Reading Apprenticeship teachers purposefully build students’ relevant capacities, such as

  • close, intellectually engaged reading;
  • meaning making;
  • acquisition of academic and disciplinary discourse;
  • supported independent reading, and
  • setting personal goals for literacy development.

Typical instructional strategies for struggling readers involve simplifying, slowing the pace, and often abandoning more rigorous course work with the tacit understanding that the students are simply not capable of performing at grade-appropriate levels of rigor. This virtually assures low levels of achievement for students who are already behind.

In contrast, the RA model is based on research showing that most students are capable of complex thinking and carrying out scientific, historical, and literary inquiry but have not been given the skills or self-confidence to approach these tasks effectively.

Unique among literacy programs, Reading Apprenticeship addresses students’ motivational needs while building skills and knowledge for subject-specific literacy tasks, strengthening students’ view of themselves as readers and learners and yielding strong, documented gains in student achievement.

For more information about Reading Apprenticeship, please visit our website. For more information about the Common Core State Standards, please visit

Cynthia Greenleaf

Cynthia Greenleaf

Blog Contributor, Cynthia Greenleaf

Cynthia Greenleaf co-directs WestEd’s Strategic Literacy Initiative (SLI) and SLI’s research program and has contributed to several books on literacy and education. She received a PhD and MA in language and literacy education from the University of California, Berkeley, and a BA in linguistics from the University of California, San Diego, where she graduated magna cum laude.

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