The Common Core State Standards and Phonics

The Common Core State Standards and Phonics

Did you know that the common core state standards have been adopted by 45 states so far?  These standards have been created to give teachers a clear instructional map for each grade level and each subject.  In my opinion these standards are much more comprehensive than the old standards that our state had.  Our old standards didn't start until 4th grade.  That meant that some teachers didn't have a clear path of what to teach in the area of reading.  It was up to the school and the individual teacher to determine what would be taught.  This meant that if a child switched schools, then the standards could be different.

As a reading teacher and online reading tutor I was interested in finding out how phonics was included in the common core.  I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there were clear standards for children in Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade.  These had never existed before in our state.  Each of the grades have the same standard, but different developmental expectations.  The common core standard for phonics is

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.3 Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.

Listed below are each of the specific expectations that every child should be able to know and apply at each grade level from Kindergarten to first grade.

a. Demonstrate basic knowledge of one-to-one
letter-sound correspondences by producing
the primary or many of the most frequent
sound for each consonant.
b. Associate the long and short sounds with
common spellings (graphemes) for the five
major vowels.
c. Read common high-frequency words by sight
(e.g., the, of, to, you, she, my, is, are, do, does).
d. Distinguish between similarly spelled words by
identifying the sounds of the letters that differ.

First Grade
a. Know the spelling-sound correspondences for
common consonant digraphs.
b. Decode regularly spelled one-syllable words.
c. Know final -e and common vowel team
conventions for representing long vowel
d. Use knowledge that every syllable must have
a vowel sound to determine the number of
syllables in a printed word.
e. Decode two-syllable words following basic
patterns by breaking the words into syllables.
f. Read words with inflectional endings.
g. Recognize and read grade-appropriate
irregularly spelled words.

Second Grade
a. Distinguish long and short vowels when
reading regularly spelled one-syllable words.
b. Know spelling-sound correspondences for
additional common vowel teams.
c. Decode regularly spelled two-syllable words
with long vowels.
d. Decode words with common prefixes and
e. Identify words with inconsistent but common
spelling-sound correspondences.
f. Recognize and read grade-appropriate
irregularly spelled words.

Third Grade
a. Identify and know the meaning of the most
common prefixes and derivational suffixes.
b. Decode words with common Latin suffixes.
c. Decode multisyllable words.
d. Read grade-appropriate irregularly spelled

Phonics the Easy Way incorporates each of these standards in one simple to use chart.  The closed pattern and the open pattern can be taught in Kindergarten.  All of the other patterns can be taught in first grade and above.  Beginning in first grade students can begin breaking words apart by syllables.

The common core does not go through a list of suggestions on how to teach these patterns, but certainly the easiest way is through using the Vowel Patternsvowel pattern chart.  The Vowel pattern chart organizes the vowel patterns into six separate sections.  They are closed, open, silent e, bossy r, two vowels, and c + le.  It allows kids to decode 1 syllable words and multi-syllable words through the spot and dot process.  Each syllable has one vowel pattern.  Sometimes the vowel patterns are the same and sometimes they are different.  Knowing where the vowel pattern goes on the chart helps kids to read really big words easily and effortlessly.  No longer does phonics need to be ambiguous.  There are clear patterns that are easy to figure out.

What was reading instruction like when you were a kid?  Was learning to read easy or was it difficult?


  1. I’m fascinated by these core standards – years ago I was really tuned in to core requirements because we home-educated our kids. Being able to read is so important.

    I never had any trouble learning to read, but was in that time period where they taught phonics. Our daughter went to school for the first 3 years (K-2) and they taught using whole language/sight. She learned easily, but I supplemented with phonics at home. Then when we switched to homeschooling, we only used phonics.

    Our son was a VERY late reader and we engaged a specialist for his needs. We found that his development was age/physical related – at one point it was as though someone turned a switch in his head and he went from being a reluctant, sound-every-word-out reader to reading 2-inch thick books. (Tolkien) Today as an adult he is a voracious reader – online non-fiction, and paper fiction.

    This looks like a great program – it gets me excited – something to remember for our future grandkids!
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