ARC Core

ARC Core is a basal alternative designed to turn balanced literacy into transformative literacy for both students and teachers. A carefully structured project-based learning process ensures students are ready to meet the demands of college (or career) through extensive reading (both as a class and independently), multiple extended writing projects, and daily practice discussing both ideas and texts with peers.

Organized into thematic units, ARC Core provides flexibility for each district to customize its scope and sequence. Available K-12 in English and K-5 in Spanish, click here to browse all themes and genres.

Jeffrey Wilhelm

"ARC Core makes both students and teachers smarter in ways that count in school, in real disciplinary work, and out in the real world."

—Jeffrey Wilhelm

How It Works

ARC Core is an entire balanced literacy system across grades, classrooms, and languages. Each part of the Literacy Block is covered by our student-centered, inquiry-based core curriculum.

ARC Core places students and their individual needs at the center of instruction with access and practice with grade level standards and complex text daily and work at independent levels where students apply learning to their chosen topic. Struggling readers, students with IEPs, gifted students, and ELLs (better known as emerging bilinguals) work successfully with rich, complex text and each other, every day.

A college-prep project-based learning process and leveled research libraries ensure all students build knowledge, regardless of current reading level.

Students write daily, with regular opportunities to practice their developing writing skills. Writing rubrics provide a basis for peer, self- and teacher critique.

Authentic tasks allow students to build vocabulary naturally, practice speaking and listening skills, and work on grammar, mechanics, usage, and structure of writing as they go through the writing process.

Click here to see sample student work.

Small group instruction, reading assessment, and leveled libraries of books all use the same reading system to drive student improvement. Our approach asks teachers to start with what each child CAN do. Teachers identify the one essential skill/standard that student needs to move reading levels, help him learn it, and repeat in a relentless march toward grade-level and beyond. With embedded assessments and rubrics throughout, the teacher watches students as they work, analyzes student thinking, and provides on the spot, immediate useful feedback.

Research Basis

American Reading Company's curriculum materials, reading assessments, and instructional frameworks have been highly rated by Edreports, Learning List, Measurement Inc, Research for Action, and Louisiana Department of Education for their effectiveness in improving student outcomes and alignment to the Common Core Standards.

Edreports: ARC Core is the only ELA curriculum to fully meet all requirements for grades K-8. Receiving top marks in text complexity and standards alignment, ARC Core scored nearly perfect in all categories. Read the full report here.

Learning List: Learning List found that our project-based core curriculum has an 86% coverage rate with the Common Core Standards, and 90% alignment percentage. See a snapshot of the report here, or subscribe to Learning List to access the full spec sheet, alignment report, and editorial review.

Louisiana Department of Education: LDOE ranked the IRLA and Foundational Skills Toolkit as a Top Tier ELA Resource.

Measurement Incorporated: In a 2014 study conducted by Measurement Incorporated, an industry leader in delivering research and evaluation services to educational institutions, experts and practitioners alike agree that the IRLA® formative assessment framework does indeed offer a multitude of benefits for students, teachers, parents, and administrators. Read the Report, IRLA Report Overview: Ten Proven Claims.

Results & Testimonials

American Reading Company’s curriculum solutions have demonstrated success in more than 5,000 schools, 1,000 districts, and 50 states, including the District of Columbia. Dramatic improvements in reading proficiency are evident in a variety of assessment results, including high-stakes standardized tests.

Check out some of our highlights.

  • Chatfield Elementary School, Chatfield Public Schools, MN
    Students in the bottom 15% of the school in reading went from 18% scoring proficient on the MCA exam to 88%.
  • Clinton Elementary School, Lancaster County School District, SC
    Grade 3 African American males scoring proficient or advanced increased 34 points on PASS ELA exam, outperforming the district and state averages.
  • Cramer College Preparatory Lab School, Camden City Public Schools, NJ
    Over 80% of students exited Kindergarten and first grade above their expected grade-level equivalency on Gates-MacGinitie Assessment.
  • PS/MS 194X, New York City Public Schools, NY
    ELL Proficiency rates doubled from 13% to 33.3% in one year, while the district and city-wide rates dropped.
  • Palm Bay Elementary, Brevard Public Schools, FL
    Percentage of students in “Lowest 25% making learning gains in reading” increased from 56% to 80%.
  • Bristol Township School District, NY
    Bristol Township School District went from 28% proficient to 71.8% proficient from October to June—more than 40 points of growth.
  • Reading School District, PA
    Reading more than quadrupled the number of students proficient or above—going from 8.3% to 36.2%.
  • Three Rivers Elementary, TX
    Three Rivers started with 17.8% of students reading proficiently and ended the year with 55.5% proficient or above—almost 40 points of growth.

Click here for a more in-depth look at our school results.

What You Get

ARC Core is Modular, Allowing Schools to Customize Their Own Scope and Sequence. Click here to explore available themes and genres.

Unit 1 Unit 2 Unit 3 Unit 4
Literacy Labs
Research Labs
Genre Study
Research Labs
Research Labs

Watch It In Action

Get to know American Reading Company's Core Curriculum. Watch how teachers use ARC Core to integrate thematic inquiry, independent reading and writing, and formative assessment together to increase student proficiency.


  • Intro

  • Thematic Inquiry

  • Sample Lesson

  • K-12 Assessment

  • Reading System

  • Classroom Libraries

  • Small Group Lesson

  • Professional Development

Explore More ELA & SLA Solutions

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