Writing Instruction in the Era of CCSS: Supporting Students with Reading and Writing Disorders

By Troia, Gary A. | Perspectives on Language and Literacy, Spring 2018 | Go to article overview

Writing Instruction in the Era of CCSS: Supporting Students with Reading and Writing Disorders


Troia, Gary A., Perspectives on Language and Literacy


Forty-four states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English language arts and deployed statewide assessments aligned with the new standards. The CCSS elevate written expression to an extent not seen in some prior standards documents and, thus, may be more demanding for student writing outcomes and the teaching of writing (Graham & Harris, 2013; Shanahan, 2015). This is important because writing is crucial for success in and out of school, but the U.S. historically has given little attention to this aspect of literacy vis-a-vis educational policy, teacher education, and research (e.g., Gilbert & Graham, 2010; Juzwik et al., 2006; National Commission on Writing for America's Families, Schools, and Colleges, 2003)-the result of which has been chronic weak performance on assessments of writing by most students in the U.S. For instance, according to results from the 2011 writing assessment conducted as part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, over 70% of students in grades 8 and 12 do not display adequate writing skills to meet classroom demands (National Center for Education Statistics, 2012). Of course, students with learning disabilities (LD) exhibit even poorer writing performance than the general population, but they are still typically expected to attain the same learning standards as their peers. In addition, it appears that an alarming number of teachers may be unfamiliar with the writing-related next generation standards: In a national survey of teachers in grades 3 through 8, Troia and Graham (2016) found that nearly one in five teachers reported they were not very familiar with the CCSS for written expression and language use. Professional development efforts are key to successful implementation of the standards as guidelines for classroom instruction, supplemental literacy programs, services and supports, and special education (and teachers do not feel that efforts have been adequate; see Ajayi, 2016; Murphy & Haller, 2015; Troia & Graham, 2016), hence the focus of this issue of Perspectives on Language and Literacy.

In this issue, authors identify a cluster of CCSS related to writing or language use (spelling and sentence formation in particular, two core areas of difficulty for many students with language-based learning problems) and reasons why students with LD might struggle with attaining those standards. Then the authors briefly describe complementary evidence-based instructional practices that would be expected to help students with LD meet the cluster of standards identified and how to evaluate students' progress in their attainment of the standards. Finally, because barriers associated with employing evidencebased practices are frequently encountered, the authors identify potentially common ones and offer suggestions for overcoming these barriers.

First, Mei Shen and Gary A. Troia present planning strategy instruction using mnemonic aids and genre study-immersion into and examination of strategically selected texts to help students attain sufficient knowledge of a particular genre structure-as two practices that can be used to improve the expository writing performance of students with LD while simultaneously addressing a large number of the CCSS. They address lack of teacher time and limited student engagement as potential implementation barriers.

Next, Daniel R. …

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