Spotlight on Strategies

ACES for Teachers

Big Idea

Students are often expected to demonstrate their learning through a written response. On most state assessments, students may read one or two passages that relate to a prompt and create a written response to that prompt. The text-based response requires students to use evidence from the passage to support their ideas. Responses are graded on a rubric that includes an "evidence and elaboration" score. It can be difficult to have students write beyond the basic answer, although the ACES strategy is an excellent way to teach students how to develop a solid response.


A = answer the question using a question stem
C = cite evidence from the text, using an evidence based term
E = expand, or explain how your evidence supports the answer
S = summarize

ACES was developed by Beth A. Rogowsky after reading the book Better Answers: Written Performance that Looks Good and Sounds Smart by Ardith Davis Cole. Along with two other educators and some research, ACES, a simple, scaffolded writing strategy, was designed.

Depending on grade level and the depth of the questions, for younger students, the summary may be omitted.

3rd Grade Common Core Standards
Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.
Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.
Determine the main idea of a text; recount the key details and explain how they support the main idea.

Introduce the topic or text they are writing about, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure that lists reasons.

Provide reasons that support the opinion.


Materials -
anchor chart: chart paper, markers
students: text, writing paper, markers or colored pencils

1. Choose a text that is sufficient in length and detail.
2. Introduce ACE by creating an anchor chart with your students.
3. Read the question you will be modeling and the ACE strategy, add the A to your chart.
4. Explain that the A stands for "answer the question", but must also include part of the question, or question stem. When adding this to your chart, consider using a three-column organizer.
5. Model what this might look like in the right column.
6. Explain that the C stands for "cite evidence", but must also include an evidence based term. Add the C and it's meaning to the chart.
7. Model what this portion of the answer might look like to the right.
8. Explain that the E stands for "expand, or explain" how the evidence supports the answer. Students may need to tap into their background knowledge to make this connection. It's the "how you know that evidence is what proves the answer."

As each step is modeled, students will follow by creating their own anchor chart in their notebook or on a sheet of paper. Using markers or colored pencils, possibly different colors for each part, will allow students to see how each builds on the next.

A rubric may also be applied to this strategy. A response may be worth 10 points, where the A of ACE is valued at 8, the C is valued at 9, and a complete ACE response is 10.

Depending on the level of your students, you may only begin by mastering one part of ACE at a time. Also depending on your students' abilities, you may require more depth or multiple citations in their response.


Try this strategy with your students. The text could be fictional, or informational. Consider using the ACE strategy to have students express their opinion about a topic. Share how you have modeled this strategy by adding your example to the Google Form below! View shared responses from others to see how the level of difficulty can be modified.

Choose a link below to access a 2nd, 4th, or 8th grade level article about Target changing their boys and girls bedroom brands.

Use the ACE strategy to develop a response to one of the questions below.

2nd Grade: Why did Target make the new brand?
4th Grade: What caused Guggemos to decide it was time to change?
8th Grade: Why have some people criticized Target's decisions?

Click the Google Form link to share your modeled ACE response!

Tools for Teaching ACES

Materials that provide an example of the strategy at each stage of writing development–from a simple paragraph to a multiple paragraph essay. Access ACES Worksheets to use in conjunction with the examples.

Library Lion

View the online story, Library Lion, and used the ACE strategy to answer the question below. According to the story, how does everyone feel when the lion returns to the library? Use evidence from the story, including images.

Credits / Citations

Pencil & notebook image

Rogowsky, B. (2007). ACES writing strategy. Retrieved from

Common Core Standards

Evidence Based Terms examples, ACE anchor chart, and student sample page - created by Esperanza Lopez

"Stores Sell New Styles of Bedroom Things for Both Boys and Girls." Newsela. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.