Why Care About Standards?

New Jersey has gone through a host of academic standards over the years, from the 1996 Core Curriculum Content Standards to the 2010 Common Core State Standards to the currently adopted NJ Student Learning Standards. As teachers, it can be easy to be dismissive of these changes. Why bother investing in learning about them when they change every so often?

But every profession advances. We would not want our doctors performing sloppy, invasive surgeries when laparoscopic techniques surpass them in efficacy and recovery. Likewise, educators should not fall behind the movement to increase rigor and finding effective methods to engage our increasingly diverse students. As our culture moves ever forward to globalization and ever seamless technological integration, it is important that our classrooms are also at the forefront of innovation.

The standards are expectations of content and skills, and as we explore the standards, my goal is delineate facts from fiction, as well as inviting dialogue on best practices in the classroom.

Whether New Jersey decides to remain with the Common Core or not, it is clear that the framework will remain a key foundation of the state’s educational vision.

How should I Approach the Standards?

One important thing to note is that the standards should be mentioned with regularity throughout your lessons. They aren’t some secret made privy only to educators. Students should know exactly what they are expected to demonstrate in the classroom. They should be the foundations of your lesson objectives. So the first thing is just understanding the standards we teach.

I don’t profess to be the Yoda of curriculum. Rather, this series of posts is my exploration of the wonky world of standards, and I hope you tag along for the journey. My goal is to unpack the standards step by step, suggesting various researched-based methods for various grades at the secondary level. There are also several instructional shifts that are important to note as we reflect upon our instruction.

A few of these shifts include:

Shift 1: Regular practice with complex text and its academic language.

Shift 2: Reading, writing and speaking grounded in evidence from the text, both literary and informational.

Shift 3: Building knowledge through content-rich nonfiction.

The Anchor Standards for Reading

Key Ideas and Details

Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences and relevant connections from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.


Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.


Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text


Standards At A Glance:

There are many standards set by Common Core and the State of New Jersey. It may seem impossible to know them all, but they must form the foundation of our instruction. The sooner and the better are are informed, the better we can reflect upon our teaching and hone our practice.

Anchor Standards for Reading

Anchor Standards for Writing

Speaking and Listening Anchors

Anchor Standards for Language

In the following posts, I will delve deep and dirty into the anchor standards, as well as approaches to making complex, reason-and-evidence-based questioning seamless to lessons, so stay tuned!