Ninth/Tenth-Grade English Language Arts (ELA) Standards

highschool-languageFreshmen and sophomores will be expected to read more challenging texts with multiple perspectives in history, science and other subjects, and research, write and discuss the material using more sophisticated analytical skills. The English Language Arts benchmarks are the same for ninth and tenth grade. Here are some examples of what your daughter or son will learn over the year, questions to ask his or her teachers and tips for reinforcing these skills at home.

Reading Literature and Informational Text

  • Read and analyze the meaning of increasingly complex texts, including:
    • Classical poetry
    • Modern literature
    • Literary nonfiction by historical figures such as Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr.
    • Historical documents such as the Bill of Rights and Preamble to the Constitution
  • Understand the relationship between historical writing and literature that draws upon them, such as how Shakespeare’s works reference the Bible or Ovid.
  • Read and analyze literature reflecting the cultural experience and point of view of authors from outside the United States
  • Gain a more sophisticated understanding of how ideas develop in an essay, article or book.
  • Assess claims and arguments; make judgments about whether evidence is trustworthy and reasoning is logical; identify weak statements and falsehoods.
  • By the end of 10th grade, read and understand literary fiction and informational writing on the advanced range of ninth/tenth grade text complexity easily and independently.


  • Complete in-depth research projects with material from multiple sources; for example, using autobiographies or biographies, podcasts, documentary films and websites.
  • Write literary reports or analyses that expand on a central theme and are backed up with details, facts and examples from the text.
  • Write argumentative or persuasive essays that use complex ideas, strong evidence and cohesive structure to express a point of view.
  • Expand writing of observational, situational or conflict-centered stories or essays by increasing the complexity of plot, details and characters to portray real or fictional events.
  • Continue to build skills evaluating arguments, evidence and statements; be able to identify false statements and differentiate between weak and strong reasoning.

Speaking and Listening

  • Use observations, facts and arguments from different perspectives to understand multiple sides of an issue; respond thoughtfully.
  • Collaborate with peers on decision-making and discussion processes such as reaching consensus, setting goals and meeting deadlines.
  • Connect a discussion to larger themes or ideas; clarify and challenge conclusions.
  • Enhance findings and evidence using digital media such as videos, infographics, podcasts and animation.


  • Discover or clarify the meaning of words and phrases using multiple strategies including context, word patterns, Latin or Greek roots, or reference materials.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of figures of speech — hyperbole, oxymorons and allusions — and analyze their role in a text.
  • Observe the rules of English grammar, including correct spelling and proper use of colons and semicolons; be able to edit written work using a style manual.
  • Build a comprehensive vocabulary; learn new words and phrases using context and related words.
  • Learn and use new techniques to make writing compelling, such as parallel structure and a variety of clauses and phrases.

Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects

The Common Core State Standards for ninth and tenth grade also include literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects. It is important to note that these literacy standards supplement content standards in the aforementioned subjects — not replace them. Individual states determine how to fold these standards into existing standards.

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