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Common Core Standards for Adult Literacy

What Are Content Standards?
Content standards describe what learners should know and be able to do at a specific skill level. In a broader sense, they include what an adult needs to be able to do in order to create a solid foundation for their literacy skills. These skills will allow them to be a successful lifelong learner, worker, family member, and community member. These core standards are meant to be building blocks­ aligning learner goals, instruction, and assessment. Listening and speaking, writing and reading are the primary indicators because they are the skills that permeate all language learning contexts. This document is not meant to be comprehensive. It does, however, provide necessary core proficiencies for language learners to build upon to achieve language proficiency .

The core standards are broad and considered essential and a prerequisite for the next level. Although adult learners will often know "bits and pieces" the object is to create a solid foundation. Core standards serve as general rather than prescribed guides that can be flexibly used by both new and veteran tutors. For example, literacy learners have different levels of proficiency . Some learners may have stronger reading skills while others may excel in listening and speaking.

Content Standards are not:
A comprehensive checklist
A required curriculum
Why Were the Content Standards Developed?
Assist tutors with lesson plans
Provide Guidance to new tutors
To use as a component in Tutor Training
To provide a common language for our Literacy Program network and our tutors

Provide Guidance for New tutors
The Core Standards provide guidance for new tutors who may have limited training in adult literacy methodology or materials. The standards serve as a guide in addressing their learner's goals and developing their lesson plans. They also serve as a wonderful "refresher" for concepts that become subconscious and habitual for native speakers.

How Were the Content Standards Developed?
The 2012 Academic Literacy Summit focusing on California's newly adopted Common Core Standards for Education (K-12), was the stimulus for developing the literacy core standards for our region . After an enthusiastic discussion at the February NCCLN meeting (following the summit ) it was decided to initiate a work group to develop the literacy core standards for use in our region. The document was to be based on California's Common Core Content Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy as well as content from workshops, conferences, workbooks, etc . that address core competencies for beginning to intermediate adult literacy learners. The idea was to develop our literacy standards in accordance with the education standards and thereby provide our adult learners with comparable basic skills as those taught in the California public education system.

Using the Content Standards
The Core Standards are to be used as aids in developing lesson plans; for addressing learner's goals; and, for developing learner's reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. Most of the standards can be taught in a variety of contexts , taking into account the learner's role as a family member , community member , and or worker. For example, as a family member, learners might need to follow a supervisor's instruction on how to write a check , or look up an address . However, the learner does not have the literacy skills required to do so. The Standards provide specific ways, ideas, and activities to develop that specific skill.

Ongoing Assessment
Ongoing assessment should be part of every lesson. Learners can demonstrate the mastery of a particular standard through ongoing verbal and written performance and other activities . With clearly defined standards, tutors can easily assess a learners ' skill in a particular area and work to improve those skills. The standards provide those definitions in clear and easy to understand language.


This document is still at the beginning stages of development so it’s not too late to join our workgroup. We need your input regarding this document’s appropriate scope, structure, content, and, in general, making this document a useful working resource tool for literacy staff and tutors in our program. Please forward your input and any questions to Toni Notar (

Associated Documents

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