Wisconsin Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts


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Wisconsin Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts

Wisconsin formally adopted the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts on June 2, 2010. The adoption of the Common Core State Standards capped a one year effort led by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA) to define K-12 academic standards that are aligned with college and work expectations, inclusive of rigorous content and application, and are internationally benchmarked. Staff from state departments of education reviewed and provided feedback on early drafts leading to a public comment period for citizens and educators. Adopting the Common Core State Standards bring academic consistency within and across the states.

Aligning for Success

Relationship Between Vision Principles, Process Content Graphic

To build and sustain schools that support every student in achieving success, educators must work together with families, community members, and business partners to connect the most promising practices in the most meaningful contexts. Major statewide initiatives focus on Wisconsin Standards, Response to Intervention (RtI), and Educator Effectiveness. While these are often viewed as separate efforts or initiatives, each of them is connected to a larger vision of every child graduating college and career ready. These initiatives function together for a common purpose. Here, the vision and set of guiding principles form the foundation for building a supportive process for teaching and learning rigorous and relevant content.

Guiding Principles for Teaching and Learning

Wisconsin’s six Guiding Principles for Teaching and Learning provide important guidance for the English language arts classroom. Within the discipline of English language arts, each of the six principles has specific implications for equity, pedagogy, instruction, and assessment. English language arts educators should consider how the six guiding principles influence their teaching. Click here for more information.

Wisconsin Foundations for English Language Arts

Wisconsin Foundations for English Language Arts provides five foundational statements about the discipline of English language arts that inform teaching and learning in English language arts classrooms in Wisconsin.

Moving From Wisconsin Model Academic Standards for English Language Arts to Wisconsin Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts

In addition to adding grade level specificity to the standards, there are major shifts in the emphases in Wisconsin Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts in comparison to the 1998 Wisconsin Model Academic Standards for English Language Arts.

Common Core State Standards Resources:


Vertical Articulation of CCSS

One way to understand the CCSS is to analyze the content and cognitive demands of the standards. Below are links to the vertical articulation of the standards for each of the strands –Reading: Literary Texts, Reading: Informational Texts, Reading: Foundational Skills, Writing, Speaking and Listening, and Language.

Look at one standard and see how it changes from one grade level to another. The standards can change in the complexity of the content demand (i.e., characters – character traits), complexity of the cognitive demand (i.e., identify – describe), or both. By analyzing the content and cognitive demands of the standards, teachers will be better equipped to target and differentiate instruction.

Lesson and Unit Plan Templates

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has created lesson and unit plan templates that align with Wisconsin Standards, RtI, and Educator Effectiveness. They outline the core elements of lesson and unit design – standards, a balanced assessment system, and instructional practices, strategies, and resources – which support the diverse learning needs of the range of learners within a classroom. A lesson can vary in length, is recursive in nature, and allows students several practices. A unit consists of a series of lessons bound together by common essential questions. Questions are provided to guide thinking.


Text Complexity

When selecting texts for students, it is important to pay attention to the complexity of the text. CCSS uses three measures to determine the complexity of a text: qualitative dimensions, quantitative dimensions, and reader and task considerations. Qualitative dimensions refer to those aspects of text complexity best measured or only measurable by an attentive human reader, such as levels of meaning or purpose; structure; language conventionality and clarity; and knowledge demands. The terms quantitative dimensions and quantitative factors refer to those aspects of text complexity, such as word length or frequency, sentence length, and text cohesion, that are difficult if not impossible for a human reader to evaluate efficiently, especially in long texts, and are used today typically measured by computer software. You can use lexile.com or even Word with Microsoft Office to measure the quantitative dimensions of a text. While the prior two elements of the model focus on the inherent complexity of text, variables specific to particular readers (such as motivation, knowledge, and experiences) and to particular tasks (such as purpose and the complexity of the task assigned and the questions posed) must also be considered when determining whether a text is appropriate for a given student. Such assessments are best made by teachers employing their professional judgment, experience, and knowledge of their students and the subject.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction created forms to evaluate the text complexity of literary texts and Informational texts.

Text Complexity Module

This module is designed for instructional leaders to support the professional development needs around text, text types, range of text, and text complexity. You are encouraged to customize this module to meet the needs of your audience. No portions may be altered, but they may be reproduced and disseminated for non-profit, educational purposes without prior permission.

Additional Text Complexity Resources:The following high quality resources on text complexity were developed by the Kansas State Department of Education

Booklist Resources:

Video Resources:


The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is developing a system of valid, reliable, and fair next-generation assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in English language arts/literacy (ELA/literacy) and mathematics for grades 3-8 and 11. The system—which includes both summative and interim assessments for accountability purposes and optional interim assessments for instructional use—will use computer adaptive testing technologies to the greatest extent possible to provide meaningful feedback and actionable data that teachers and other educators can use to help students succeed. For more information, click here.


DPI Early Learning website
Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards
PDF of WMELS to CCSS alignment
Portrait of a Literate Student


DPI Disciplinary Literacy homepage
Disciplinary Literacy in ELA Google site (coming soon!)
Video: Literacy in Other Disciplines


The world is changing—and so should the approach to English language arts. With implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) underway, there will be many changes to the teaching of ELA as well as many opportunities to teach for global competence while simutaneously meeting the CCSS. Here are some ideas on what reading, writing, and communications in the 21st century means, and how it can be applied in schools.

For information about “Make ELA Global.” Asia Society Global Learning Newsletter, Summer 2012 contact Michael Ryan (608) 267-9130   .









For questions about this information, contact Connie Ellingson (608) 267-9155