Introducing Academic Language Standards in Goalbook Pathways

We are excited to announce a new content offering for Goalbook Pathways: Language Standards for grades 3–12 ELA. Included in this release are 29 NEW Pathways Pages and 95 NEW DOK-aligned Item Progressions that help students develop their academic language skills to comprehend and express more complex thoughts and reasoning.

New language standards resource (L.5.2)

Academic language is more than memorizing grammar rules.

“To communicate complex ideas and information calls for the lexical and grammatical resources of mature discourse — students must master these if they are to succeed in school and career.”
Lily Wong Fillmore, Professor of Education

The standards reflect a shift to college and career readiness, dramatically raising the expectations of what it means to have fluency and proficiency with the English language. It is no longer sufficient for students to simply speak or write correctly; instead, the emphasis is on whether students can comprehend, reason, and express themselves in increasingly complex evidence-based ways.

Below are three critical shifts that can be found in the current English Language Arts.

Students need…

1) … regular practice with complex texts and their academic language

2) … to engage in reading, writing, and speaking grounded in evidence from texts, both literary and informational

3) …to build knowledge through content-rich nonfiction (i.e. informational texts)


Each shift places new expectations on students in the areas of complexity and richness of texts presented to them (i.e. “complex texts”, “content-rich nonfiction”) AND on how students express their ideas and reasoning (i.e. “grounded in evidence from texts”). The goal for students is no longer about the correctness of their language but on the content and quality of their ideas.

Demonstration of selecting assessment item from language standards (L.5.1)

We want to help educators lay the foundation for quality language instruction.

New expectations for students ultimately means new demands on teachers. However, most grammar and language resources that are currently available to teachers prioritize rote practice and rule memorization.

We now have hundreds of new model assessment items that align to specific grade-level language standards at the substandard level so teachers can hone in on a specific skill in a whole class, mini-lesson, or small group intervention.

Over 300 model assessment items in Language at the substandard level and scaffolded by DOK level.

Depth of Knowledge Meets Academic Language Instruction

What educators find uniquely helpful about the new language resources in Pathways is that they are scaffolded by Depth of Knowledge level. The expectations for the new language standards are that students use more complex and content-rich vocabulary and conventions in their writing; thus, teachers are wrestling with the challenge of how to get students there.

Depth of Knowledge and Academic Language

DOK 1: Recall/Reproduction: Knowing the rules/definition

● Students can recognize examples of a convention vs non-examples of a convention

● Students can define a convention

● Students can match an academic vocabulary term with its definition

DOK 2: Conceptual/Procedural: Revising and correcting with explicit directions, context, and supports

● Students can find errors of a specific convention in a writing sample when directed or given support

● Students can infer meaning of academic language using explicit context clues

DOK 3: Strategic Thinking: Authentically applying to own language or critiquing the language of others for a larger writing purpose or audience

The language resources in Goalbook Pathways were designed with DOK and functional language in mind.

Instructional scaffolds and assessment resources aligned to the standard (L.5.1.)

Our content writers understand the importance of tight alignment to the Language standards. That is why within each new language resource, they defined each standard and substandard. More importantly, they included classroom-ready resources and printable worksheets aligned to the skill goals within the Language Standards.

We wanted to give teachers a comprehensive set of instructional resources and strategies for writing, so we prioritized the areas of grammar and usage conventions, writing conventions, and vocabulary acquisition with this first batch of content. These three areas are the most widely assessed on nationally-normed assessments and they lay the foundation for developing strong writing skills.

Check out some of our NEW language pages.

· Language .1’s — Grammar & Usage Conventions

· Language .2’s — Writing Conventions

· Language .4’s — Vocabulary Acquisition & Use

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Fillmore, Lily Wong, and Charles J Fillmore. What Does Text Complexity Mean for English Learners and Language Minority Students? Understanding Language, Stanford University, Stanford , CA, pp. 1–11