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New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge (NJ ASK)
Performance Level Descriptors

Language Arts Literacy
Grade 8


Partially Proficient


Eighth grade students performing at the partially proficient level construct meaning by using reading strategies for literal and inferential comprehension, and make connections with the text.  They identify the central idea or theme, demonstrate some understanding of text structures and literary elements, and provide some support for opinions and conclusions.   These students use word structure and context clues to determine the meaning of unknown words, and attempt to interpret, extrapolate, and synthesize information.


Eighth grade students partially proficient in writing develop a single focus and organize and connect ideas with supporting details.  They establish a purpose for writing and provide limited support for opinions and conclusions.  These students demonstrate some control of Standard English conventions.



Eighth grade students performing at the proficient level show an overall understanding of a variety of texts at literal and inferential levels.  They make connections while interpreting and analyzing text.  Proficient students recognize the author’s purpose and respond critically to central themes, supporting details, and organizational structures of text.  They interpret, extrapolate and synthesize information.  Students support opinions and conclusions with evidence from the text.


Eighth grade students proficient in writing develop and sustain a single focus, include and elaborate supporting details, and use a variety of organizational structures.  They establish a purpose for writing and elaborate on ideas.  Students at this level provide support for opinions and conclusions while demonstrating control of Standard English conventions.

Advanced Proficient


In addition to demonstrating the skills outlined for proficient students, advanced proficient students show a sophisticated understanding of abstract themes and ideas.  They make insightful connections while interacting with, interpreting, analyzing, and critiquing text. The advanced students synthesize, analyze, and evaluate written text.


As writers, students performing at the advanced level of proficiency consistently demonstrate the skills outlined for proficient performance.  The advanced proficient students, in addition to developing a central theme, supporting details and organizational structure, demonstrate sophisticated use of literary elements and vivid vocabulary.  Advanced students show a high degree of sustained control over textual conventions and apply compositional risks.