Grade 8 Selected Top Priority Standards

 Grade 8  Selected Top Priority Standards


  • English

    Students use their knowledge of word origins and word relationships, as well as historical and literary context clues, to determine the meaning of specialized vocabulary and to understand the precise meaning of grade-level-appropriate words.

    • Analyze idioms, analogies, metaphors, and similes to infer the literal and figurative meanings of phrases.

    Students read and understand grade-level-appropriate material. They describe and connect the essential ideas, arguments, and perspectives of the text by using their knowledge of text structure, organization, and purpose.

    • Compare and contrast the features and elements of consumer materials to gain meaning from documents (e.g., warranties, contracts, product information, instruction manuals).
    • Compare the original text to a summary to determine whether the summary accurately captures the main ideas, includes critical details, and conveys the underlying meaning.
    • Evaluate the unity, coherence, logic, internal consistency, and structural patterns of text.

    Students read and respond to historically or culturally significant works of literature that reflect and enhance their studies of history and social science. They clarify the ideas and connect them to other literary works.

    • Determine and articulate the relationship between the purposes and characteristics of different forms of poetry (e.g., ballad, lyric, couplet, epic, elegy, ode, sonnet).
    • Identify significant literary devices (e.g., metaphor, symbolism, dialect, irony) that define a writer's style and use those elements to interpret the work.
    • Analyze a work of literature, showing how it reflects the heritage, traditions, attitudes, and beliefs of its author. (Biographical approach)

    Students write clear, coherent, and focused essays. The writing exhibits students' awareness of audience and purpose. Essays contain formal introductions, supporting evidence, and conclusions.

    • Create compositions that establish a controlling impression, have a coherent thesis, and end with a clear and well-supported conclusion.
    • Establish coherence within and among paragraphs through effective transitions, parallel structures, and similar writing techniques.
    • Plan and conduct multiple-step information searches by using computer networks and modems.
    • Revise writing for word choice; appropriate organization; consistent point of view; and transitions between paragraphs, passages, and ideas.

    Students write narrative, expository, persuasive, and descriptive essays of at least 500 to 700 words in each genre. Student writing demonstrates a command of standard American English and the research, organizational, and drafting strategies outlined in Writing Standard.

    • Write biographies, autobiographies, short stories, or narratives.
    • Write responses to literature such as exhibiting careful reading and insight in their interpretations and supporting judgments through references to the text, other works, other authors, or to personal knowledge.
    • Write research reports.
    • Write persuasive compositions.
    • Write documents related to career development, including simple business letters and job applications.
    • Write technical documents.

    Students write and speak with a command of standard English conventions appropriate to this grade level.

    • Use correct and varied sentence types and sentence openings to present a lively and effective personal style.
    • Identify and use parallelism, including similar grammatical forms, in all written discourse to present items in a series and items juxtaposed for emphasis.
    • Edit written manuscripts to ensure that correct grammar is used.

    Students deliver focused, coherent presentations that convey ideas clearly and relate to the background and interests of the audience. They evaluate the content of oral communication.

    • Prepare a speech outline based upon a chosen pattern of organization, which generally includes an introduction; transitions, previews, and summaries; a logically developed body; and an effective conclusion.
    • Use precise language, action verbs, sensory details, appropriate and colorful modifiers, and the active rather than the passive voice in ways that enliven oral presentations.
    • Use appropriate grammar, word choice, enunciation, and pace during formal presentations.
    • Evaluate the credibility of a speaker (e.g., hidden agendas, slanted or biased material).

    Students deliver well-organized formal presentations employing traditional rhetorical strategies (e.g., narration, exposition, persuasion, description). Student speaking demonstrates a command of standard American English and the organizational and delivery strategies outlined in Listening and Speaking Standard.

    • Deliver narrative presentations (e.g., biographical, autobiographical).
    • Deliver oral responses to literature.
    • Deliver research presentations.
    • Deliver persuasive presentations.


  • Math

    Symbolic reasoning and calculations with symbols are central in algebra. Through the study of algebra, a student develops an understanding of the symbolic language of mathematics and the sciences. In addition, algebraic skills and concepts are developed and used in a wide variety of problem-solving situations. 

    1. Students identify and use the arithmetic properties of subsets of integers and rational, irrational, and real numbers, including closure properties for the four basic arithmetic operations where applicable.

    2. Students understand and use such operations as taking the opposite, finding the reciprocal, taking a root, and raising to a fractional power. They understand and use the rules of exponents.

    3. Students solve equations and inequalities involving absolute values.

    4. Students simplify expressions before solving linear equations and inequalities in one variable, such as 3(2x-5) + 4(x-2) = 12.

    5. Students solve multistep problems, including word problems, involving linear equations and linear inequalities in one variable and provide justification for each step.

    6. Students solve a system of two linear equations in two variables algebraically and are able to interpret the answer graphically. Students are able to solve a system of two linear inequalities in two variables and to sketch the solution sets.

    7. Students add, subtract, multiply, and divide monomials and polynomials. Students solve multistep problems, including word problems, by using these techniques.

    8. Students apply basic factoring techniques to second- and simple third-degree polynomials. These techniques include finding a common factor for all terms in a polynomial, recognizing the difference of two squares, and recognizing perfect squares of binomials.

    9. Students simplify fractions with polynomials in the numerator and denominator by factoring both and reducing them to the lowest terms.

    10. Students solve a quadratic equation by factoring or completing the square.

    11. Students know the quadratic formula and are familiar with its proof by completing the square.

    12. Students use the quadratic formula to find the roots of a second-degree polynomial and to solve quadratic equations.

    13. Students use the quadratic formula or factoring techniques or both to determine whether the graph of a quadratic function will intersect the x-axis in zero, one, or two points.

    14. Students apply quadratic equations to physical problems, such as the motion of an object under the force of gravity.


  • Science

    Focus on Physical Science


    The velocity of an object is the rate of change of its position. As a basis for understanding this concept:

    1. Students know position is defined in relation to some choice of a standard reference point and a set of reference directions.
    2. Students know that average speed is the total distance traveled divided by the total time elapsed and that the speed of an object along the path traveled can vary.
    3. Students know how to solve problems involving distance, time, and average speed.
    4. Students know the velocity of an object must be described by specifying both the direction and the speed of the object.
    5. Students know changes in velocity may be due to changes in speed, direction, or both.
    6. Students know how to interpret graphs of position versus time and graphs of speed versus time for motion in a single direction.


    Unbalanced forces cause changes in velocity. As a basis for understanding this concept:

    1. Students know a force has both direction and magnitude.
    2. Students know when an object is subject to two or more forces at once, the result is the cumulative effect of all the forces.
    3. Students know when the forces on an object are balanced, the motion of the object does not change.
    4. Students know how to identify separately the two or more forces that are acting on a single static object, including gravity, elastic forces due to tension or compression in matter, and friction.
    5. Students know that when the forces on an object are unbalanced, the object will change its velocity (that is, it will speed up, slow down, or change direction).
    6. Students know the greater the mass of an object, the more force is needed to achieve the same rate of change in motion.
    7. Students know the role of gravity in forming and maintaining the shapes of planets, stars, and the solar system.

    Structure of Matter

    Each of the more than 100 elements of matter has distinct properties and a distinct atomic structure. All forms of matter are composed of one or more of the elements. As a basis for understanding this concept:

    1. Students know the structure of the atom and know it is composed of protons, neutrons, and electrons.
    2. Students know that compounds are formed by combining two or more different elements and that compounds have properties that are different from their constituent elements.
    3. Students know atoms and molecules form solids by building up repeating patterns, such as the crystal structure of NaCl or long-chain polymers.
    4. Students know the states of matter (solid, liquid, gas) depend on molecular motion.
    5. Students know that in solids the atoms are closely locked in position and can only vibrate; in liquids the atoms and molecules are more loosely connected and can collide with and move past one another; and in gases the atoms and molecules are free to move independently, colliding frequently.
    6. Students know how to use the periodic table to identify elements in simple compounds.

    Earth in the Solar System (Earth Sciences)

    The structure and composition of the universe can be learned from studying stars and galaxies and their evolution. As a basis for understanding this concept:

    1. Students know galaxies are clusters of billions of stars and may have different shapes.
    2. Students know that the Sun is one of many stars in the Milky Way galaxy and that stars may differ in size, temperature, and color.
    3. Students know how to use astronomical units and light years as measures of distances between the Sun, stars, and Earth.
    4. Students know that stars are the source of light for all bright objects in outer space and that the Moon and planets shine by reflected sunlight, not by their own light.
    5. Students know the appearance, general composition, relative position and size, and motion of objects in the solar system, including planets, planetary satellites, comets, and asteroids.


    Chemical reactions are processes in which atoms are rearranged into different combinations of molecules. As a basis for understanding this concept:

    1. Students know reactant atoms and molecules interact to form products with different chemical properties.
    2. Students know the idea of atoms explains the conservation of matter: In chemical reactions the number of atoms stays the same no matter how they are arranged, so their total mass stays the same.
    3. Students know chemical reactions usually liberate heat or absorb heat.
    4. Students know physical processes include freezing and boiling, in which a material changes form with no chemical reaction.
    5. Students know how to determine whether a solution is acidic, basic, or neutral.

    Chemistry of Living Systems (Life Sciences)

    Principles of chemistry underlie the functioning of biological systems. As a basis for understanding this concept:

    1. Students know that carbon, because of its ability to combine in many ways with itself and other elements, has a central role in the chemistry of living organisms.
    2. Students know that living organisms are made of molecules consisting largely of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulfur.
    3. Students know that living organisms have many different kinds of molecules, including small ones, such as water and salt, and very large ones, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and DNA.

    Periodic Table

    The organization of the periodic table is based on the properties of the elements and reflects the structure of atoms. As a basis for understanding this concept:

    1. Students know how to identify regions corresponding to metals, nonmetals, and inert gases.
    2. Students know each element has a specific number of protons in the nucleus (the atomic number) and each isotope of the element has a different but specific number of neutrons in the nucleus.
    3. Students know substances can be classified by their properties, including their melting temperature, density, hardness, and thermal and electrical conductivity.

    Density and Buoyancy

    All objects experience a buoyant force when immersed in a fluid. As a basis for understanding this concept:

    1. Students know density is mass per unit volume.
    2. Students know how to calculate the density of substances (regular and irregular solids and liquids) from measurements of mass and volume.
    3. Students know the buoyant force on an object in a fluid is an upward force equal to the weight of the fluid the object has displaced.
    4. Students know how to predict whether an object will float or sink.

    Investigation and Experimentation

    Scientific progress is made by asking meaningful questions and conducting careful investigations. As a basis for understanding this concept and addressing the content in the other three strands, students should develop their own questions and perform investigations. Students will:

    1. Plan and conduct a scientific investigation to test a hypothesis.
    2. Evaluate the accuracy and reproducibility of data.
    3. Distinguish between variable and controlled parameters in a test.
    4. Recognize the slope of the linear graph as the constant in the relationship y=kx and apply this principle in interpreting graphs constructed from data.
    5. Construct appropriate graphs from data and develop quantitative statements about the relationships between variables.
    6. Apply simple mathematic relationships to determine a missing quantity in a mathematic expression, given the two remaining terms (including speed = distance/time, density = mass/volume, force = pressure × area, volume = area × height).
    7. Distinguish between linear and nonlinear relationships on a graph of data.


  • Social Studies

    United States History and Geography: Growth and Conflict

    Students in grade eight study the ideas, issues, and events from the framing of the Constitution up to World War I, with an emphasis on America's role in the war. After reviewing the development of America's democratic institutions founded on the Judeo-Christian heritage and English parliamentary traditions, particularly the shaping of the Constitution, students trace the development of American politics, society, culture, and economy and relate them to the emergence of major regional differences. They learn about the challenges facing the new nation, with an emphasis on the causes, course, and consequences of the Civil War. They make connections between the rise of industrialization and contemporary social and economic conditions.

    Students understand the major events preceding the founding of the nation and relate their significance to the development of American constitutional democracy.

    • Describe the relationship between the moral and political ideas of the Great Awakening and the development of revolutionary fervor.
    • Analyze the philosophy of government expressed in the Declaration of Independence, with an emphasis on government as a means of securing individual rights (e.g., key phrases such as "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights").
    • Analyze how the American Revolution affected other nations, especially France.
    • Describe the nation's blend of civic republicanism, classical liberal principles, and English parliamentary traditions.

    Students analyze the political principles underlying the U.S. Constitution and compare the enumerated and implied powers of the federal government.

    • Discuss the significance of the Magna Carta, the English Bill of Rights, and the May-flower Compact.

    Students understand the foundation of the American political system and the ways in which citizens participate in it.

    • Describe the basic law-making process and how the Constitution provides numerous opportunities for citizens to participate in the political process and to monitor and influence government (e.g., function of elections, political parties, interest groups).
    • Understand the functions and responsibilities of a free press.

    Students analyze the aspirations and ideals of the people of the new nation.

    • Analyze the rise of capitalism and the economic problems and conflicts that accompanied it (e.g., Jackson's opposition to the National Bank; early decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court that reinforced the sanctity of contracts and a capitalist economic system of law).
    • Discuss daily life, including traditions in art, music, and literature, of early national America (e.g., through writings by Washington Irving, James Fenimore Cooper).

    Students analyze U.S. foreign policy in the early Republic.

    • Understand the political and economic causes and consequences of the War of 1812 and know the major battles, leaders, and events that led to a final peace.

    Students analyze the divergent paths of the American people from 1800 to the mid-1800s and the challenges they faced, with emphasis on the Northeast.

    • Discuss the influence of industrialization and technological developments on the region, including human modification of the landscape and how physical geography shaped human actions (e.g., growth of cities, deforestation, farming, mineral extraction).
    • Outline the physical obstacles to and the economic and political factors involved in building a network of roads, canals, and railroads (e.g., Henry Clay's American System).
    • List the reasons for the wave of immigration from Northern Europe to the United States and describe the growth in the number, size, and spatial arrangements of cities (e.g., Irish immigrants and the Great Irish Famine).
    • Study the lives of black Americans who gained freedom in the North and founded schools and churches to advance their rights and communities.
    • Trace the development of the American education system from its earliest roots, including the roles of religious and private schools and Horace Mann's campaign for free public education and its assimilating role in American culture.

    Students analyze the divergent paths of the American people in the South from 1800 to the mid-1800s and the challenges they faced.

    • Describe the development of the agrarian economy in the South, identify the locations of the cotton-producing states, and discuss the significance of cotton and the cotton gin.
    • Trace the origins and development of slavery; its effects on black Americans and on the region's political, social, religious, economic, and cultural development; and identify the strategies that were tried to both overturn and preserve it (e.g., through the writings and historical documents on Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey).

    Students analyze the divergent paths of the American people in the West from 1800 to the mid-1800s and the challenges they faced.

    Students analyze the early and steady attempts to abolish slavery and to realize the ideals of the Declaration of Independence.

    Students analyze the character and lasting consequences of Reconstruction.

    • List the original aims of Reconstruction and describe its effects on the political and social structures of different regions.
    • Identify the push-pull factors in the movement of former slaves to the cities in the North and to the West and their differing experiences in those regions (e.g., the experiences of Buffalo Soldiers).

    Students analyze the transformation of the American economy and the changing social and political conditions in the United States in response to the Indus-trial Revolution.

    • Trace patterns of agricultural and industrial development as they relate to climate, use of natural resources, markets, and trade and locate such development on a map.
    • Identify the reasons for the development of federal Indian policy and the wars with American Indians and their relationship to agricultural development and industrialization.
    • Explain how states and the federal government encouraged business expansion through tariffs, banking, land grants, and subsidies.
    • Discuss entrepreneurs, industrialists, and bankers in politics, commerce, and industry (e.g., Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Leland Stanford).
    • Examine the location and effects of urbanization, renewed immigration, and industrialization (e.g., the effects on social fabric of cities, wealth and economic opportunity, the conservation movement).
    • Discuss child labor, working conditions, and laissez-faire policies toward big business and examine the labor movement, including its leaders (e.g., Samuel Gompers), its demand for collective bargaining, and its strikes and protests over labor conditions.
    • Identify the new sources of large-scale immigration and the contributions of immigrants to the building of cities and the economy; explain the ways in which new social and economic patterns encouraged assimilation of newcomers into the mainstream amidst growing cultural diversity; and discuss the new wave of nativism.
    • Identify the characteristics and impact of Grangerism and Populism.
    • Name the significant inventors and their inventions and identify how they improved the quality of life (e.g., Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Orville and Wilbur Wright).


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