When I started making this website, I had a hard time envisioning how it would be set up. After all, how do you turn a 66-page document with an 18-word title* into something manageable, searchable, teachable, and embraceable? I think one key tool in the task of comprehending the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are their use of what they call College and Career Readiness (CCR) “anchor standards.”
A CCR anchor standard is a skill that high school graduates should have in order to be ready for entry into the world of work or postsecondary education. Basically, an anchor standard is an answer to the question, “What should a 21st century high school diploma holder be able to do in order to flourish?” Whether you teach kindergarten or 12th grade, an anchor standard is the target.
Because literacy tasks involve various modes of operation, there are several sets of anchor standards. They are: Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, and Language.
Now, because K-12 schooling is complex, the CCSS document gets increasingly complicated once you dive deeper than the anchor standards. For example, from K-5, the anchor standards in reading are broken into the categories of literature, informational texts, and foundational skills. However, from 6-12, those same reading anchor standards are broken into the categories of “English Language Arts” (ELA) and “Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects.” All of this complexity is simply for the purpose of translating the broad anchor standards into grade-appropriate end-of-year expectations.
Okay, so let’s not go there yet. Let’s just focus on the anchor standards.Think of them like… an anchor. (Wow.) But seriously: the anchor standards are the fundamental skills that we want students to have when they graduate from our public schools. They are general enough to allow for the entrepreneurial aspects of being a teaching professional (i.e., they give us room to play), but they are also rigorous (which, I would argue, kids will appreciate), and they are also aligned with what colleges and workplaces expect students to be able to do. These anchors are what can keep our kids from floating away sometime between their entry into kindergarten and the fateful flipping of their tassels.
*Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects = 18 words