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Fifth Grade

Grade Level Standards For Fifth Grade

Characteristics of the Fifth Grade Student
For most children, this is a very social age, and these students want very much to be with others. This sociability does not prevent them from becoming competitive, however, even in social situations. Some will strive to see how many friends they can make and others will attempt to excel at sports or work hard for good grades.

The self image of most fifth graders is likely to be stronger and more positive than it was a year ago. Because of their easy nature, they are likely to experience greater acceptance by adults. Of even more importance is the increase in acceptance of others as well as self-acceptance. These children are generally positive toward home, school, and peers.

Most fifth graders are sensitive to what takes place in groups. Most can make individual judgments, although peer pressures are starting to make this more difficult. At times they can get into disagreements with classmates and some can be cruel to less fortunate peers.

English/Language Arts

The English-Language Arts curriculum provides students, through their study and understanding of literature, with intensive experiences in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Students progress at their own individual pace through levels of mastery. In grade five, the major focus continues to be developing fluency skills and reading to learn.

The fifth grade student will…


Word Analysis, Fluency, and Vocabulary Development
• Use word origins to determine the meaning of unknown words.
• Understand and explain frequently used grade appropriate synonyms, antonyms, and homographs.
• Know abstract Greek and Latin derived roots and affixes and use this knowledge to analyze the meaning of complex words.
• Understand and explain the figurative and metaphorical use of words in context.

Reading Comprehension
• Understand how text features such as format, graphics, sequence, diagrams, illustrations, charts, and maps make information accessible and usable.
• Discern main ideas and concepts presented in texts, identifying and assessing evidence that supports those ideas.
• Draw inferences, conclusions or generalizations about text and support them with evidence.
• Distinguish among facts, supported inferences, and opinions in text.

Literary Response and Analysis
• Identify and analyze the characteristics of non-fiction, fiction, drama and poetry.
• Identify the main problem or conflict of the plot and how it is resolved.
• Contrast the actions, motives and appearances of characters in a work of fiction and discuss relationships to the plot or theme.
• Understand that theme refers to the meaning or moral of a selection, whether it is implied or stated directly.
• Describe the function and effect of key literary devices such as imagery and symoblism in literary works.
• Evaluate authentic models in myths and other traditions in literature from different eras and cultures (e.g. American tall tales, Native American legends).


Writing Strategies
• Establish a context and create a point of view.
• Create multi-paragraph text that presents effective introductions and concluding paragraphs which guide and inform the reader’s understanding of key ideas and evidence.
• Use organizational features of printed text such as citations, end notes and biliographic references to locate relevant information.
• Use organizational features of electronic text such as bulletin boards, databases, keyword searches and e-mail addresses to locate information.
• Create documents using word-processing skills and publishing programs and create simple databases and spreadsheets to manage information and create reports.
• Revise and edit manuscripts to improve the meaning and focus of writing by adding, deleting, clarifying and rearranging words and sentences.


Listening and Speaking Strategies
• Ask questions that seek information not already discussed.
• Interpret speakers’ messages (both verbal and nonverbal), messages, purposes, and perspectives.
• Make inferences or draw conclusions based on an oral report.
• Share ideas, opinions and information with a group, choosing vocabulary that communicates their messages clearly, precisely and effectively.
• Select a focus, organization and point of view in the oral presentation.
• Clarify and support spoken ideas with evidence, elaboration and examples.
• Engage audience with appropriate verbal cues, facial expressions, and gestures.
• Identify and analyze the persuasive techniques (promises, dares and flattery, glittering generalities) used in oral presentations and media messages.
• Analyze media as information provider, entertainer, persuader, informer and transmitter of culture.

Listening and Speaking Applications
• Deliver narrative presentations that 1) establish a situation, plot, point of view, setting and/or conflict with descriptive words and phrases, 2) show rather than tell the listener what happens.
• Deliver presentations speculating on cause and effects that 1) describe a situation, establish the connection between the situation and the causes or effects, 3) offer simple persuasive evidence for the validity of the proposed causes or effects.


• Identify and correctly use troublesome verbs (e.g. lie/lay, sit/set, rise/raise), modifiers, and nominative, objective and possessive pronouns.
• Identify and properly use prepositional phrases, appositives and independent and dependent clauses; use transitions and conjunctions to elaborate ideas.
• Use colon to separate hours and minutes, and to introduce a list; use quotation marks around exact words of speaker and names of poems, songs, short stories, etc.
• Use correct capitalization.
• Spell roots, suffixes and prefixes correctly.
• Use object, possessive and reflexive pronouns.

As parents, you can help by:

Encouraging your child to read.
• Providing lots of print material for your child to read.
• Letting your child see you read.
• Asking your child to read to you.
• Visiting the public library regularly.
• Limiting the use of television and video games.
• Reading and talking about books.
• Having conversations about trips, current events, and family activities.
• Attending theater and musical productions in the community.
• Encouraging and supporting your child’s participation in school-sponsored reading programs.
• Providing an appropriate place for homework.
• Monitoring your child’s progress.


By the end of fifth grade, students increase their facility with the four basic arithmetic operations applied to positive and negative numbers, fractions and decimals. They know and use common measuring units to determine length and area; they know and use formulas to determine the volume of simple geometric figures. Students know the concept of angle measurement and use a protractor and compass in solving problems. They use grids, tables, graphs, and charts to record and analyze data.

The fifth grade student will…

Number Sense
• Compute with very large numbers, positive and negative numbers, decimals and fractions and understand the relationship between decimals, fractions and percents.
• Perform calculations and solve problems involving addition, subtraction and simple multiplication and division of fractions and decimals.

Algebra and Functions
• Use variables in simple expressions, compute the value of the expression for specific values of the variable, and plot and interpret the results.

Measurement and Geometry
• Understand and compute volumes and areas of simple objects.
• Identify, describe, draw and classify properties of, and relationships between, plane and solid geometric figures.

Statistics, Data Analysis, and Probability
• Display, analyze, compare and interpret different data sets, including data sets that are not the same size.

Mathematical Reasoning
• Make decisions about how to approach problems.
• Use strategies, skills and concepts in finding solutions.
• Move beyond a particular problem by generalizing to other situations.

As parents, you can help by:

Playing math games with your child, such as Cribbage, Solitaire, Challenge 24, Bridge, Yahtzee, Mastermind, Stratego, etc.
• Playing computer games designed to use strategy or numbers.
• Having your child use the newspaper to calculate the stock market, coupons, or sales.
• Encouraging your child to budget their money.
• Taking children shopping with you and allowing them to use calculators for sales and percents.
• Discussing with your child how important math is in your work place and in daily life.
• Doing mental math with your child and continuing to review basic math facts.

History/Social Science

Students in fifth grade study the development of the nation up to 1850 with an emphasis on the population: who was already here, the arrival of others, and why people came. Students learn about the colonial government founded on Judeo-Christian principles, the ideals of the Enlightenment, and the English traditions of self-government. Studying the cause, course and consequences of the early explorations through the War for Independence and western expansion is central to students’ fundamental understanding of how the principles of the American republic form the basis of a pluralistic society in which individual rights are secured.

The fifth grade student will…

• Trace the routes and describe the early explorations of the Americas.
• Describe the cooperation and conflict that existed among the Native Americans and between Native American nations and the new settlers.
• Understand the political, religious, social, and economic institutions that evolved in the colonial era.
• Explain the causes of the American Revolution.
• Understand the course and consequences of the American Revolution.
• Relate the narrative of the people and events associated with the development of the U.S. Constitution and analyze its significance as the foundation of the American republic.
• Trace the colonization, immigration and settlement patterns of the American people from1789 to the mid-1800s.


In addition to the standards for grades 1-5, students demonstrate the following intellectual, reasoning, reflection and research skills.

Chronological and Spatial Thinking
• Students place key events and people of the historical era they are studying both in a chronological sequence and within a spatial context; they interpret timelines.
• Students apply terms related to time correctly, including past, present, future, decade, century, and generation.
• Students explain how the present is connected to the past, identifying both similarities and differences between the two, and how some things change over time and some things stay the same.
• Use map and globe skills to determine the absolute locations of places and interpret information available through the map’s legend, scale, and symbolic representations.
• Judge the significance of the relative location of a place and analyze how those advantages or disadvantages can change over time.

Research, Evidence and Point of View
• Students differentiate between primary and secondary sources.
• Students pose relevant questions about events encountered in historical documents, eyewitness accounts, oral histories, letters, diaries, artifacts, photos, maps, art and architecture.
• Students distinguish fact from fiction by comparing documentary sources on historical figures and events with fictionalized characters and events.

Historical Interpretation
• Students summarize the key events of the era they are studying and explain their historical contexts.
• Students identify the human and physical characteristics of the places they are studying.
• Students identify and interpret the multiple causes and effects of historical events.
• Students conduct benefit/cost analyses of historical and current events.


The district’s character education program seeks to instill in students habits of the heart, mind and will that contribute the development of a “person of character.” Six core values have been adopted to guide and systematically address ethics in the instructional program, as well as in the school community.

• Trustworthiness
• Respect
• Responsibility
• Justice and Fairness
• Caring
• Citizenship

As parents, you can help by:

Taking family trips to historical or cultural locations.
• Using maps to plan vacations or family outings.
• Setting a positive example of character and ethical behavior.
• Discussing the implications of positive and negative choices of public figures.
• Developing an awareness of media influences on society.


The district science program encourages children to comprehend the nature of the physical universe (the interdependence and the connection) in a laboratory setting. Major science themes (Energy, Evolution, Patterns of Change, Scale and Structure, Stability, and Systems and Interactions) and the scientific thinking processes (observing, communicating, comparing, ordering, categorizing, relating, inferring, and applying) are crucial to the sciences.

The fifth grade student will demonstrate an understanding that…

Earth Science
The earth is a complex system made up of materials and affected by forces of gravity and electromagnetism.

• Rocks, minerals and crystals have a definite scale and structure.
• Interactions between the atmosphere and sunlight affect the kind and amount of solar energy that reaches the earth’s surface.
• The earth and the sun have magnetic fields.

Life Sciences
The cell is the basis for all living things.

• Living things are composed of cells.
• Cells are diverse in variety and function, and are the building blocks of all organisms.
• Multi-celled organisms have tissues, organs and organ systems that perform specific life functions.
• Plant cells use sunlight to produce sugars which serve as the basis for energy flow through a food web.

Physical Sciences
Energy can be transformed, transferred and used.

• Energy can be classified by its type or source.
• Light, sound, heat and other forms of energy can be observed and described.
• Force and motion have characteristics that can be identified.
• Energy is released or absorbed in a chemical reaction.

As parents, you can help by:

• Visiting science-oriented locations such as aquariums, arboretums, and observatories.
• Using the scientific method to investigate phenomena and answer children’s questions about the world around them.
• Discussing science programs on TV, video, or on the Internet.

Physical Education Standards

The physical education program provides students with opportunities to achieve motor skills and movement knowledge, develop a positive self-image and recognize personal achievement, and develop social skills of respect and acceptance of others.

The fifth grade student will…

• Participate in programs for increasing speed and accuracy in their physical activities.
• Demonstrate accuracy while throwing, striking, catching and kicking different objects at a variety of distances.
• Describe how to increase distance and accuracy using scientific principles.
• Design a cardiorespiratory and body composition plan by using aerobic activities.
• Assess personal physical fitness, compare scores to a health-related standard and set goals for improvement or maintenance.
• Demonstrate acceptance of individual differences in small group games.
• Describe the origin of sports and activities in the U.S. during the 18th and 19th centuries.

As parents, you can help by:

• Encouraging extra-curricular involvement in organized sports (team or individual).
• Limiting your child’s use of video games, TV, and computers to promote opportunities for physical activity.
• Taking family walks or hikes.


Health Education

The health curriculum provides students with opportunities to explore concepts in depth, analyze and solve real-life problems, and work cooperatively on tasks that develop and enhance their conceptual understanding. It also provides students with the knowledge and skills that can lead to lifelong positive attitudes related to health.

The fifth grade student will…

• Accept personal responsibility.
• Demonstrate respect for, and promotion of, the health of others.
• Understand the processes of growth and development.
• Use health-related information, products, and services.

As parents, you can help by:

Involving your child in planning nutritious meals and snacks.
• Modeling and encouraging healthy habits in hygiene, rest, activity, and eating.

Visual and Performing Arts

Dance, music, drama, and visual arts are a means to develop personal dimensions within the learning process; thus, they provide the necessary curriculum balance in developing the whole person. They are integrated throughout the curriculum, though at times become subject-centered fine arts classes.

The fifth grade student will…

• Communicate an understanding of dance through creative expression, aesthetic perception and valuing, and dance theater heritage.
• Create a simple repeatable dance
• Engage in rhythmic movement
• Experience the creative process of dance
• Attend or participate in a school production

Express and communicate an understanding of music by creative expression, aesthetic perception, and valuing.
• Sing songs with limited range
• Experience playing with percussion instruments
• Become aware of differences in pitch
• Distinguish between singing and speaking
• Experience music of various cultures • Attend or participate in a school production

• Communicate an understanding of drama through creative expression, aesthetic perception and valuing, and drama theater heritage.
• Begin to participate in story dramatization
• Move as an object or storybook animal
• Reproduce sounds individually or with others (rain, wind, thunder, wind, etc.)
• Begin to acquire a sense of drama through storytelling and improvisation
• Attend or participate in a school production

Visual Arts
• Express and communicate an understanding of visual arts by creative expression and aesthetic perception and valuing.
• Maintain a portfolio with art work produced throughout the year
• Create a number of products that represent an initial understanding of the design elements: line and color
• Be introduced to drawing, painting, and constructing techniques using pens, tempera, crayon, and watercolor

As parents, you can help by:

Visiting art museums, musical concerts, theatrical performances, and other exhibitions.
• Encouraging your child’s participation in organized music, dance, theater, or art classes.


Our vision is to prepare students for a changing future through the expanding use of technology that serves as a catalyst for learning. To this end, students will regularly use computers and other educational technologies. Through a district network, teachers have access to electronic mail and both teachers and students have access to selected educational sites on the Internet. In fifth grade, the major focus is to use technology efficiently as part of the learning process.

The fifth grade student will…

Computer Hardware and Software
• Operate computer efficiently
• Navigates between files
• Types 25 WPM

Technology Etiquette
• Follow district policies
• Obey copyright laws
• Demonstrate proper care of equipment

Technology Skills That Improve Learning
• Design and format a class report
• Capture images
• Download information using telecommunications technology

As parents, you can help by:
• Working with your child on keyboarding skills.
• Guiding your child toward appropriate use of the Internet.
• Monitoring student access to the Internet.

The Move to Common Core Standards

Educational standards describe what students should know and be able to do in each subject in each grade. In California, the State Board of Education decides on the standards for all students, from kindergarten through high school.

Since 2010, 45 states have adopted the same standards for English and math. These standards are called the Common Core State Standards. Having the same standards helps all students get a good education, even if they change schools or move to a different state. Teachers, parents, and education experts designed the standards to prepare students for success in college and the workplace.

The California Department of Education helps schools make sure that all students are meeting the standards.

  • Students and families who are looking for more information may visit the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Web page for Students, Parents, and Guardians.
  • Education professionals who want to learn more about the standards and find resources to support student attainment of the standards should visit the CCSS and Educators Web page.
  • Below you will find information about the standards and the CCSS-related activities taking place in California.

The Standards