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2.3 Evaluating Sources and Using Evidence to Answer Text-Dependent Questions

As mentioned in Unit 1, the second Common Core Shift for ELA/Literacy calls for “reading, writing and speaking grounded in evidence from text, both literary and informational.” This focus corresponds to several of the CA Historical and Social Sciences Analysis SkillsFor example, the skills for Grades 9–12 include:

CA Historical and Social Sciences Analysis Skills

Research, Evidence, and Point of View, Grades 9–12

3. Students evaluate major debates among historians concerning alternative interpretations of the past, including an analysis of authors’ use of evidence and distinctions between sound generalizations and misleading oversimplifications.

4. Students construct and test hypotheses; collect, evaluate, and employ information from multiple primary and secondary sources; and apply it in oral and written presentations.


Thoughtfully planned text-dependent questions aligned to the CA CCSS for ELA/Literacy can guide students to closely read and analyze the evidence and arguments of primary and secondary sources.

Text-dependent questions specifically ask questions that can only be answered by explicitly referring back to the text being read. It does not rely on any particular background information extraneous to the text nor depend on students having other experiences or knowledge; instead it privileges the text itself and what students can extract from what is before them."

Student Achievement Partners, 2013

Using well-constructed text-dependent questions effectively compels students to probe a text to identify its key meanings or ideas.

Time to Read

Read the "Complete Guide to Creating Text-Dependent Questions," from Student Achievement Partners to help generate a core series of questions to support the close reading of any text. Consider how you can adapt these directions to history/social studies curriculum.