English Language Arts

Introduction to the NC Standard Course of Study for ELA

In April 2017, the North Carolina State Board of Education adopted new ELA standards for grades K-12. The Standard Course of Study describes what students should know, understand, and be able to do by the end of each grade level. How these standards are taught is decided at a district level. 

The NC Standard Course of Study was developed based on feedback provided from Parents, Community Members, Business/Industry Professionals, Higher Education Faculty, and Educators (teachers, administrators, curriculum specialists).   

The NC Standards are divided into 4 strands:  Reading Foundational Skills (K-5), Reading Literature, Reading Informational Text, Writing, Speaking and Listening, and Language. 

Click on the link below to open documents that highlight the ELA Common Core Standards for Fourth Grade and provide suggestions of how you can help your child at home:

Parent Guide for English Language Arts includes: 
• an introduction to the NC English Language Arts Standard Course of Study 
• an explanation of the skills your child is learning in fourth grade 
• reading strategies for learning outside of school 
• writing strategies for learning outside of school 
• websites to support your child’s learning

Parent Guide ELA - 4th Grade                

Fourth Grade ELA Curriculum Overview

Reading Strand

K-12 Standards for Reading define what students should understand and be able to do by the end of each grade. Students should demonstrate their proficiency of these standards both orally and through writing. For students to be college and career ready, they must read from a wide range of high-quality, increasingly challenging literary and informational texts. One of the key requirements of the Standards for Reading is that all students must be able to comprehend texts of steadily increasing complexity as they progress through school. Students should also acquire the habits of reading closely and independently for sustained periods of time. They need to connect prior knowledge and experiences to text. They must also show a steadily growing ability to discern more from and make fuller use of text. 

Reading Foundational Skills

The foundational skills 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, including handwriting. These foundational skills 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. A systematic approach to handwriting instruction (manuscript and cursive) in the elementary grades is essential for students to communicate their ideas clearly. To achieve handwriting proficiency, students need to apply their handwriting skills to authentic writing activities. Instruction in the foundational skills should be differentiated. The point is to teach students what they need to learn and not what they already know – to discern when particular children or activities warrant more or less attention. 


To be college and career ready, students should learn how to offer and support opinions/arguments, demonstrate understanding of a topic under study, and convey real and/or imagined experiences. Students learn that a key purpose of writing is to communicate clearly and coherently. The NC ELA Writing Standards emphasize the importance of writing routinely in order to build knowledge and demonstrate understanding. The complete writing process (from prewriting to editing) is clear in the first three writing standards. These standards define what students should understand and be able to do by the end of each grade.

Speaking and Listening Strand

The K-12 Speaking and Listening Standards define what students should understand and be able to do by the end of each grade. To become college and career ready, teachers must provide students with ample opportunities to communicate their thinking orally through a variety of rich, structured conversations either in whole group or in small group settings, or with a partner. To be a productive part of these conversations, students need to contribute accurate information, respond and build on the ideas of others, use data and evidence effectively, and listen attentively to others. 

Language Strand

Language skills are inseparable from and vital to reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Even though these skills are in a separate strand, it is important for students to use effective and correct language skills in all contexts. The NC ELA Language Standards emphasize the use of accurate language skills, not just the identification of accurate language skills. The grammar and conventions Grade Band Continuums allow for differentiation and re-teaching as needed. It is important that students begin to demonstrate proficiency in the lower grade(s) of each band, while students in the highest grade of the band should demonstrate proficiency of the listed language skills by the end of the school year