Now, on to the final set of anchor standards in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) ELA document: the language standards. These are first found on page 25. The question these anchor standards seek to answer is, “What should a college- and career-ready (CCR) person be able to do with language, particularly in terms of conventions and vocabulary?”
How are the Anchor Standards for Language Organized?
Similar to the anchor standards in speaking and listening, there are six language anchor standards, and they are broken up into three groups.
- Conventions of Standard English (L.CCR.1-2*)
- Knowledge of Language (L.CCR.3)
- Vocabulary Acquisition and Use (L.CCR.4-6)
To paraphrase, these anchor standards are dedicated to answering these questions:
- When needed, can you write and speak using the conventions of standard English grammar and usage? When needed, can you write with conventional capitalization, punctuation, and spelling?
- Can you use language as a tool for conveying meaning effectively? In other words, can you use language well enough so that the language gets out of the way and the ideas get communicated?
- Do you recognize when words have multiple meanings? Can you clarify how a particular word is being used by an author or speaker? Are you able to make sense of figurative language and nuanced word meanings? Do you habitually acquire and accurately use vocabulary when it is used by an author or speaker?
The language anchor standards make pure communication possible. Without them, our students will continuously run into frustration when they're trying to communicate something in the workplace or in college. Of all the strands of anchor standards, these are the least sexy but perhaps the most fundamental. Your students can practice the other strands without having the language standards in place, but it's inarguable that these standards are necessary to allow students the greatest chance to flourish.
*The CCSS use the following format for notating anchor standards: [Strand, e.g., Reading or Writing or Speaking and Listening or Language].[College and Career Ready, i.e., this is what kids should be able to do when they graduate; see my post on anchor standards].[Number of the standard]. So the fifth anchor standard in the Speaking and Listening strand would be SL.CCR.5, and the ninth anchor standard in the Writing strand would be W.CCR.9.