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MN ABE News

A place to get ABE news from across Minnesota.


Revisited: Where in the CCRS World are Alphabetics and Fluency?

In last year’s MN ABE Professional Development (PD) Survey, a number of instructors wondered if the College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) address beginning literacy skills. Over the past two years of getting to know the CCRS for Adult Education, my answers have included yes, no, and yes!

Yes. In the blue CCRS book, on pages 40-43, tucked in after the ELA Standards for Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, and Language, are Reading Standards: Foundational (RF) Skills, at Levels K-5. They are “directed toward fostering students’ understanding and working knowledge of concepts of print, the alphabetic principle, and other basic conventions of the English writing system. These foundational skills are not an end in and of themselves; rather, they are necessary and important components of an effective comprehensive reading program designed to develop proficient readers with the capacity to comprehend texts across a range of types and disciplines” (page 40). The three CCRS RF Skills are:

  • RF.2. Phonological Awareness: demonstrate understanding spoken words, syllables, and sounds or phonemes 
  • RF.3. Phonics and Word Recognition: know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words 
  • RF.4. Fluency: read [grade-level text] with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension

No. They do not include knowledge of print concepts (right to left, top to bottom, page to page, and words + spaces = sentences) or Roman alphabet letters, which are often needed by Beginning Literacy students. Nor do they recognize that they may not be ready for grade-level texts. However, two Common Core State Standards (CCSS) RF Skills from K-12 fill in the gaps:

  • RF.1. Print Concepts: demonstrate understanding of the organization and basic features of print (understand spoken to written, left to right, top to bottom, and page to page; recognize words + spaces = sentences; recognize and name Roman alphabet letters)
  • RF.4. Fluency: read emergent reader text (using controlled language and pictures or photos) with purpose and understanding

Yes! When the CCRS and CCSS RF Skills are combined into RF 1-4, they create a complete and clear sequence for teaching alphabetics and fluency, the Print Skills, which are interrelated with vocabulary and comprehension, the Meaning Skills. Reading research and practice indicate that balanced literacy instruction – emphasizing BOTH print and meaning skills – is the best practice for Beginning- and Intermediate-level adult readers!

Where can I find more resources?

  1. View a combined sequence of the four CCSS and CCRS RF Skills.
  2. View descriptions and links to FREE resources for teaching the RF Skills, including my Teaching CCRS Reading Foundational Skills online course, the EBRI/STAR resource library on the ATLAS website, and instructional videos posted on the MN ABE YouTube site.