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25 Jun 2020

Knowledge, Literacy, and the Common Core

Gina N. Cervetti & Elfrieda H. Hiebert

Journal Article

Cervetti, G.N., & Hiebert, E.H., (2015). Knowledge, Literacy, and the Common Core. Language Arts, 92(4), pp. 256-269.


Much attention has been paid to the call in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS; National Governors Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices & Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), 2010) for more reading and writing of informational text in the elementary grades. Indeed, in the context of the CCSS, informational text is on even footing with literature—perhaps for the first time ever. It would be possible to respond to the call for more attention to informational texts by simply changing the balance of different text types used for instructional purposes. In this article, we discuss why this approach would miss of the intent of the CCSS and why we should focus attention on using the opportunity of reading more informational text to build students’ disciplinary and world knowledge. We suggest that the critical message of the CCSS is the need to support students in developing knowledge for and through reading.

To understand how knowledge should and can be foregrounded in ELA instruction, we develop three points:

  • The increased attention to nonfiction texts in the Common Core stems from the emphasis on knowledge.
  • Knowledge and comprehension are synergistically connected to one another.
  • ELA instruction needs to be multifaceted to ensure that existing knowledge is activated and new knowledge (and ways of gaining new knowledge) is built.