WELCOME to the Kansas State Department of Education 
English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects Website!

Over time this site will continue to grow and improve. Please feel free to explore the tabs at the top of the screen to access information about English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects standards and assessments.

If you are an English Language Arts and Literacy educator from Kansas, please register at the top right-hand corner of this page to apply for access to additional materials, including blogs, wikis and forums on ELA education in Kansas.

KSDE has an email listserv available to English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects content educators across the state. If you would like to be added to this list please email Kris Shaw or Suzy Oertel.

Mission Statement

Below is our mission statement for the new ELA webpage.

The Mission of English Language Arts and Literacy Education: English Language Arts and Literacy in History/ Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects education in Kansas prepares students to become accomplished in reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language across all content areas.

To Accomplish this Mission:
The complete English Language Arts and Literacy education program will:

  • Employ high quality classroom instruction.
  • Develop students’ ability to access and communicate effectively through reading, writing, speaking and listening .
  • Prepare students to be confident participants in educational and career settings.

We aspire for excellence as we recruit, prepare and encourage individuals to participate in our English Language Arts initiatives throughout the state.

We serve schools and communities by offering young people opportunities to actively engage in learning through authentic reading, writing, speaking and listening tasks.

Language Arts and Literacy Education should prepare students to participate as competent leaders in educational and career settings.

Common Core Shifts for English Language Arts and Literacy


1. Building knowledge through
content rich nonfiction

Building knowledge through content rich non-­‐fiction plays an essential role in literacy and in the Standards. In K-­5, fulfilling the standards requires a 50-­50 balance between informational  and literary reading.  Informational reading primarily includes content rich non-­fiction in history/social studies, science and the arts; the K-­‐5 Standards strongly recommend that students build coherent general knowledge both within each year and across years.  In 6-­12, ELA classes place much greater attention to a specific category of informational  text—literary nonfiction—than  has been traditional.  In grades 6-­12, the Standards for literacy in history/social studies, science and technical subjects ensure that students can independently  build knowledge in these disciplines through reading and writing.  

To be clear, the Standards do require substantial attention to literature throughout K-­12, as half of the required work in K-­5 and the core of the work of 6-­12 ELA teachers.   

2. Reading, writing and speaking grounded in evidence from text, both literary and informational

The Standards place a premium on students writing to sources, i.e., using evidence from texts to present careful analyses, well-­‐defended claims, and clear information. Rather than asking students questions they can answer solely from their prior knowledge or experience, the Standards expect students to answer questions that depend on their having read the text or texts with care.   The Standards also require the cultivation of narrative writing throughout the grades, and in later grades a command of sequence and detail will be essential for effective argumentative  and informational writing.   

Likewise, the reading standards focus on students’ ability to read carefully and grasp information, arguments, ideas and details based on text evidence. Students should be able to answer a range of text-­dependent questions, questions in which the answers require inferences based on careful attention to the text. 

3. Regular practice with complex text and its academic language

Rather than focusing solely on the skills of reading and writing, the Standards highlight the growing complexity of the texts students must read to be ready for the demands of college and careers.  The Standards build a staircase of text complexity so that all students are ready for the demands of college-­‐ and career-­‐level reading no later than the end of high school.

Closely related to text complexity—and inextricably connected to reading comprehension—is a focus on academic vocabulary: words that appear in a variety of content areas (such as ignite and commit).  

KSDE 2014 Summer Academies

Deep Dive into the Kansas College and Career Ready Standard–2014 Summer Academy.

The 2014 KSDE Summer Academy will focus on advancing instruction in the classroom using the Kansas College and Career Ready Standards. The sessions will deepen understanding of the standards by engaging participants in active discussion and collaborative development of instructional units. Participants register for one option from a menu of professional learning sessions and take a three-day dive into maximizing student learning. All sessions are designed to model best practices of instruction and will engage the participants in reflecting on classroom instruction and improving student learning. On the third day of the Academy, we will be collaborating across content areas to develop instructional units that have students tackle big questions. By the end of each Academy, participants will return to their building with a renewed passion for teaching and collaboratively developed instructional resources. Additional information is located on the registration site.

Audience:  Classroom teachers, instructional coaches, school counselors, curriculum directors and administrators

Cost: $200 per person for the 3-day Academy.  Costs include the professional learning as well as breakfast, lunch and snacks each day. 

Registration:  All of the information for the registration page is available at either of the following links:

1.    The event flyer
 (http://events.ksde.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=iCyfF52fojc%3d&tabid=704&mid=1690) or,
2.    The registration home page
(http://events.ksde.org/Default.aspx?tabid=704)

Thanks your for your interest in Deep Diving into the KCCRS!

Introduction to Resource Sets
"Introduction to Resource Sets", a two day presentation by Kris Shaw and Suzy Oertel, Kansas State Department of Education, was hosted by the ESU School of Library & Information Management on the campus of Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas. Resource Sets expand on the idea of developing text sets for curriculum units in the classroom. Resource Sets focus on the process of building a set of materials, texts, audio and video clips, art, science hypotheses, or social studies essential questions into a unit. The step-by-step process is clarified by the use of an easy-to-read game board. You can access this introduction on You Tube at http://youtu.be/imxlJA8AXPk
2013-2014 Transitional Assessment Update
For information on the 2014 Transitional Assessment for English Language Arts and Literacy please visit our Assessment page at the top.
Writing Assessment Update

Updated Information about the Assessment of Writing in Kansas

Changes are on the horizon for the Kansas summative assessment in writing. The 2015 Kansas Assessment will include field test prompts in the area of writing that will look very different from how the writing assessment has looked in the past. Below are answers to some “Frequently Asked Questions” that will hopefully bring clarity to educators about what can be expected in 2015 and beyond.


Which students will be assessed in writing?

For 2015, all students taking the ELA assessment will also be assessed in writing.


What will writing look like on the summative assessment?

For the writing portion of the Kansas summative assessment, students will engage with 2-3 related stimuli (which may be articles, narratives, reports, graphs, charts, images, diagrams, etc.) and will have the opportunity to make notes about the stimuli based on some guiding questions. In a separate test session, students will receive a prompt based on the stimuli and will participate in an on-demand writing task, to be completed in a single test session.


What will the stimuli look like?

As noted above, the stimuli may be related articles, narratives, reports, graphs, charts, images, diagrams, etc. The stimuli students engage with will focus around a central topic or idea from different disciplines, such as Science or History.


Will the performance or writing tasks from other content area assessments be used to gain a score for writing in ELA as well?

We are hoping that in the future, we will be able to do this. For example, both the History/Government and Science assessments are still in the design and pilot phase, so we will continue to work toward making this idea a reality.


What type of writing will students do?

The standards at each grade level address narrative, informative/explanatory, and opinion/argument writing. Therefore, specific types of writing will not be attached to particular grades. Students at any grade level could be asked to write any type of text.


How will students’ writing be scored?

Scoring rubrics are being developed based on the Kansas College and Career Ready Standards and the 6+1-Trait® Writing Model, which is still part of the Kansas College and Career Ready Standards. Because the Standards and 6+1-Trait® Model both address expectations and descriptors for polished pieces of writing, special care is being taken to create rubrics that will assess what students can reasonably produce, given the time constraints for writing on the summative assessment.

Classroom teachers will review and assist in revising the rubrics in early August 2014, and the rubrics will be released to the field in September 2014.


Who will score students' writing?

CETE will use a distributed scoring model to complete the scoring. Specific details are still being worked out regarding who will score, how many responses each person will score, etc. Once these decisions are finalized, the information will be shared.


Does this mean I should only do on-demand writing in my classroom?

Absolutely not. The standards clearly state that students should engage in writing over both extended and shorter time frames. The summative assessment is merely a snapshot of a student's performance on a defined set of skills and should not be used as the sole indicator of what is or is not a valued or important academic skill.


Will students' 2015 scores on the writing assessment “count” for anything?

The writing portion of the Kansas assessment in 2015 will be a field test, intended to give CETE valuable information about the prompts, rubrics, and stimuli that can only be gathered in a real testing environment. While we expect that students and schools will also be able to gain valuable information from the writing assessment in 2015, it won't be fully operational until 2016, once data from the field test is fully analyzed and the quality of the prompts, rubrics, and stimuli can be verified.


Why is the assessment of writing going to be an on-demand writing task and not focus on process, as it has in the past?

There are several reasons for the change from a process-focused writing task to an on-demand writing task, namely time and security. When Kansas was still planning to give the Smarter Balanced Assessment, there were concerns from the field that students would be spending too much time testing. Once the decision was made to leave the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, Kansas had more freedom to act on the field's request to reduce testing time. The previous week-long writing assessment did not seem feasible, given the time constraints requested by the field and the Kansas Board of Education.

Another primary consideration contributing to this decision was security. Since the writing score will now be attached to an overall ELA score, which eventually will have to be reported for accountability, and possibly also used for a portion of a teacher’s evaluation, concerns were raised about whether an assessment stretching over multiple days would pass peer review. Given the more “open” testing climate of our previously-administered writing assessment, it was unlikely that it would have passed peer review.


Do I still need to focus on the writing process?

Yes. The writing standards include the writing process, and students should regularly engage in writing tasks that allow them time to fully engage in a process of planning, drafting, revising, and polishing pieces of writing.


What about 6+1-Trait® Writing?

The 6+1-Trait® Writing Model is part of the Kansas College and Career Ready Standards, so educators should still be using the language of the Model in their instruction. Likewise, as mentioned above, the scoring rubrics for the summative writing task will include some language from the Model as well. Educators are encouraged to continue to use 6+1-Trait® rubrics to score classroom writing tasks as well. However, the scoring rubrics for the summative assessment will not look like the 6+1-Trait® rubrics used for the writing assessment in the past, due primarily to concerns about the time constraints and the reasonability of students being able to adequately demonstrate all the traits within a piece of writing produced in a single testing session. Incidentally, new rubrics for 6+1 Trait® writing were recently released and can be found here: http://educationnorthwest.org/traits/traits-rubrics.


So, how can I prepare my students for the writing portion of the Kansas Assessment?

Focus on quality writing instruction. Design writing tasks and instruction focused on the writing standards and literacy standards. Have students write daily, in response to both verbal and nonverbal texts. Engage students in short writing tasks as well as tasks that require them to fully engage in a writing process that spans many days. Use the 6+1-Trait® Model in conversations with students about their own writing as well as the writing of others. Ensure that writing instruction occurs throughout the school day, in multiple contexts and for multiple reasons.


What if I still have questions?

We continue to meet with CETE regularly, and will update the field as best we can with the most recent information available regarding the assessment of writing in Kansas. However, please contact Suzy Myers-Oertel at soertel@ksde.org if you have further questions about the writing portion of the Kansas Assessment.


Contact Information
 Sharon Beck   Kris Shaw   Suzy Oertel  Jackie Lakin   
Administrative Assistant    Language Arts and Literacy Consultant  Language Arts and Literacy Consultant    Education Program Consultant   
 sbeck@ksde.org      kshaw@ksde.org  soertel@ksde.org    jlakin@ksde.org
785.296.3261    785.296.4926  785.296.5060    785.296.2144   
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