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Standards create a vision of a comprehensive language arts program.

Before the creation of content standards, school reform efforts were guided by the desire to improve student achievement without agreement as to the content of that achievement. These standards set forth the content that students need to acquire by grade level. At every grade level the standards cover reading, writing, written and oral English language conventions, and listening and speaking. Grade by grade, the standards create a vision of a balanced and comprehensive language arts program.

Knowledge acquisition is a part of literacy development.

Reading, writing, listening, and speaking are related processes, which should be nurtured within a rich core curriculum. Literacy competencies are the gateways to knowledge across the disciplines. Prior knowledge is the strongest predictor of a student's ability to make inferences about text, and writing about content helps students acquire knowledge. Thus, literacy and the acquisition of knowledge are inextricably connected. Educators should take every opportunity to link reading and writing to other core curricula, including history, social science, mathematics, science, and the visual and performing arts, to help students achieve success in all areas.

Standards are central to literacy reforms.

The standards continue to serve as the centerpiece of language arts reform in California. They continue to provide a focus for the development of documents such as the Reading/Language Arts Framework and literacy handbooks; criteria used for the selection of textbooks; the language arts portions of tests used in state assessments; and an array of professional development activities. Just as the standards drive numerous statewide initiatives, they are also being used extensively throughout California as teachers and administrators strengthen local programs and create schoolwide literacy programs to meet the needs of all students.

Standards describe what, not how, to teach.

Standards-based education maintains California's tradition of respect for local control of schools. To help students achieve at high levels, local school officials, literacy and library leaders, and teachers-in collaboration with families and community partners-are encouraged to continue using these standards to evaluate and implement the best and most powerful practices. These standards provide ample room for the innovation, creativity, and reflection essential to teaching and learning.

Standards help to ensure equity and access for all.

The diversity of California's students presents both opportunities and challenges for instruction. Language and literacy growth begins before children enter school as they learn to communicate, listen to stories, look at books, and play with other children. Students come to school with a wide variety of abilities and interests, as well as varying proficiency in English and other languages. The vision guiding these standards is that all students must have the opportunities, resources, time, and support needed to achieve mastery. Literacy is a gateway skill, opening a world of possibilities to students. Our goal is to ensure that every student graduating from high school is prepared to transition successfully to postsecondary education and careers. These standards represent our commitment to excellence for all children.