Last updated: 2006
Language is naturally acquired as a fundamental trait of humanness. As we enter school, even
though we may have had little formal language instruction, we characteristically have a secure
knowledge of our language, constructed almost unconsciously. The study and practice of
language as a school content area involves the more focused examination of elements, structures,
and functions in our language system. We use the term "language arts" to reflect how we
develop skills and apply strategies to "craft" language for particular purposes and specific
effects. We construct meaning from text we read or hear; we create intended meaning with text
we write or speak.
The intent of secondary language arts instruction is to empower students in their use of
language to understand and investigate themselves, others, cultures, and the environment. This
involves developing students' awareness of language purposes, their knowledge of the language
elements and processes through which meaning is created, and their ability to evaluate meaning
from different points of view. It involves providing students with explicitly guided practice so
they internalize more complex, sophisticated strategies as habits of mind. It involves students'
reflective practice to recognize and value intricacies and idiosyncrasies of language meaning and
effect. It also involves their use of language to interpret and connect with the world and to
develop their sense of civic responsibility within it.
The Secondary Language Arts Core Curriculum emphasizes purposeful, strategic
knowledge and processes in language applications. Language arts students should be
practitioners of language skills, including being able to form literate expressions about learning.
Organization of the Secondary Language Arts Core
- Each grade level begins with a brief course description.
- The INTENDED LEARNING OUTCOMES (ILOs) describe the goals for language arts
skills and attitudes. They are found at the beginning of each grade, and are an integral part
of the Core. They should be included as part of instruction.
- A STANDARD is a broad statement of what students are expected to understand. Several
objectives are listed under each standard.
- There are three standards: READING, WRITING, and INQUIRY/RESEARCH/ORAL
- An OBJECTIVE is a more focused description of what students need to know and be able
to do at the completion of instruction. If students have mastered the objectives associated
with a given standard, they are judged to have mastered that standard at that grade level.
Several indicators are described for each objective.
- An INDICATOR is a measurable or observable student action that enables one to judge
whether a student has mastered a particular objective. Indicators are not meant to be
classroom activities, but they can help guide classroom instruction.
- The use of E.G. in an indicator denotes an example of what might be assessed with that
indicator; the use of I.E. denotes the only thing that can be assessed to evaluate that
Guidelines Used to Develop the Secondary Language Arts Core
- The Utah Secondary Language Arts Core relies heavily on the National Council of
Teachers of English Standards for English Language Arts and the International Reading
Association Position Statement on Adolescent Literacy. (See Appendix B)
- The Utah Secondary Language Arts Core builds deliberately and systematically on the
language arts foundation provided in the elementary experience. The Elementary
Language Arts Core (published May 9, 2003) identifies skills that students exiting 6th
grade should have and be able to use.
- The Utah Secondary Language Arts Core should provide a comprehensive and competent
literacy education that leads to understanding literacy skills as complex and enjoyable
forms of learning and discovery.
- The Utah Secondary Language Arts Core assumes literal comprehension in reading. More
sophisticated comprehension skills are addressed and expected as part of the secondary
- The Utah Secondary Language Arts Core assumes that reading skills and strategies are
foundation pieces to a good reading curriculum and that, through the use of these skills and
strategies, reading comprehension is achieved and improved.
- The Utah Secondary Language Arts Core encourages students to use language for
authentic purposes: to gather information, to enrich thinking, to explore culture and the
human condition, and to be more forceful and articulate in using language in their lives.
- The Utah Secondary Language Arts Core supports reading and writing efforts across the
curriculum. However, it assumes that content-specific teachers (science, social studies, the
arts, etc.) are addressing reading and writing in their particular courses as they guide
students through domain-specific learning. The National Commission on Writing in
America's Schools and Colleges reports that the total time spent writing during the
educational day must be increased. In Utah's secondary schools, students should spend at
least 45 minutes writing during the school day. In order to meet this goal, all content areas
should spend time in writing to learn as well as in writing to demonstrate learning. In
addition, common expectations for assessing writing should be developed across all curricular areas.
- The Utah Secondary Language Arts Core requires instruction in reading in literary and
informational text. Included in informational texts are the kinds of functional texts that
may be encountered in language arts (charts, diagrams, etc.). It is expected that functional
text will be addressed in other content areas where applicable and where materials may be
more readily available.
- The Utah Secondary Language Arts Core uses a form of analytical evaluation of writing
based on six traits. There is no intention of recommending any product or program as
sufficient for the entire curriculum where teaching writing is concerned. Utah uses a sixtrait
model for consistency of vocabulary when talking about the development of skill in
writing, and for consistency of evaluation across schools and districts in language arts and
across content area writing programs.
- The Utah Secondary Language Arts Core should address students' different educational
needs, goals, and learning requirements, rather than seeing their cultural, intellectual, and
linguistic differences as indications of inability or lack of academic interest.
- The Utah Secondary Language Arts Core should help students acquire the necessary skills
to enter the job market or to seek and succeed at continuing academic training.