Informational Guide for the English Language Arts Portfolio Appeals Process
Updated November 2021
To fulfill the English language arts (ELA) assessment component of New Jersey high school graduation requirements, a student must demonstrate proficiency in English language arts. Any 12th grade student in the class of 2022 who has not yet met the high school graduation assessment requirement for ELA may do this through the portfolio appeals process by demonstrating competency in Constructed Response Tasks (CRTs) aligned to the content categories as described in the following:
- Two grade-level reading passages (one literary and one informational) as well as associated items that demonstrate a student’s comprehension (i.e., multiple-choice items and short constructed responses to open-ended questions).
- Writing that includes at least two of the three types required by New Jersey Student Learning Standards in ELA (i.e., informative/explanatory, argument, narrative).
Writing tasks should be scored using the New Jersey Student Learning Assessments-ELA (NJSLA-ELA) Grades 6 to 11 rubrics. Districts should use NJSLA-ELA practice items and released items as examples of the kinds of questions that should be included but may not use the actual items for their appeals.
The following FAQs will help guide districts in creating the evidence needed for the student appeal process.
Q: What type of evidence should guide the design of CRTs?
Although it depends on the passage and writing type, the following provides some general guidelines:
- Close reading of texts: Close reading focuses on using evidence from texts with an emphasis on analyzing and evaluating texts. For example, students must use close reading to not only determine the central idea, but also to select the textual evidence that will justify the chosen central idea.
- Text dependent questions: Questions should require students to demonstrate their understanding by identifying evidence from the texts. An effective set of text dependent questions delves systematically into a text to guide students in extracting the key meanings or ideas found in the text.
- Writing to sources: It is essential that the writing tasks elicit evidence that students have understood a text they have read and can communicate that understanding both in terms of written expression and knowledge of language and conventions.
Q: What are ELA Evidence Statement Tables?
The ELA Evidence Statement Tables contain Reading, Vocabulary and Writing claims, and the evidences to be measured on the NJSLA-ELA Assessment. Evidence statements are attached to the Reading, Vocabulary and Writing claims and describe what students might say or do to demonstrate mastery of the standards. It is important to note that an item on the NJSLA-ELA assessment will measure multiple evidence statements.
Q: Where can I find the ELA Evidence Statement Tables?
You can find the Evidence Statement Tables in the Test Content and Other Information section of the NJSLA Resource Center. Here are direct links to the Evidence Statement Tables for Reading and Writing. These are the only Evidence Statement Tables to be used.
Q: How do I read the ELA Evidence Statement Tables?
The first line in the Evidence Statement Table indicates the grade. This is followed by the second line which lists the claim (e.g., Reading Literature, Reading Information). The first column on the left includes a list of the standards (e.g., Reading Literature will be identified as “RL”). In the Evidence Statement Tables for grades 6 through 11, the first column on the table also lists the standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects, identified as “RST” (Reading in Science and Technical subjects). The standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies will be identified as “RH” (Reading History). In the next column are the evidence statements to be measured on NJSLA-ELA. The released items should serve as a model to highlight item alignment to the evidence statements.
Q: Do I need to align an evidence statement to each item?
Yes. Items should be aligned to the evidence statements on the cover sheets.
Q: Do the items need to be aligned to a particular grade level?
School officials can select evidence statements from the Reading and Writing Evidence Statement Tables for grades 9 to 11 which can be found in the Test Content and Other Information section of the NJSLA Resource Center.
Q: Do the passages need to be on grade level?
The passages selected for the portfolio appeals process need to be on a high school reading level. Teachers are encouraged to employ their professional judgment, experience and knowledge of their students, and the subject when selecting passages.
Q: What would a CRT for ELA consist of?
Reading: Literary Text:
- One literary passage
- Comprehension items
- Writing (extended written response task) connected to the reading passage
Reading: Informational Text:
- One informational passage
- Comprehension items
- Writing (extended written response task) connected to the reading passage
Q: What types of questions should we develop for each passage set?
Associated comprehension items (e.g., multiple-choice, short constructed response, open-ended) and writing tasks should measure a breadth of the evidence statements. The released items, practice tests, evidence statements, and rubrics for the NJSLA-ELA should be used to help with designing and scoring items on portfolio appeals.
Q: How many items should we develop for each passage set?
The number of items, as well as the total points possible, is determined by the school/district. However, the number of items will typically vary depending on the passage selected and the types of questions used to elicit evidence.
Q: Do we need to follow a two-part question format when developing our reading comprehension items?
No. However, two-part questions are an acceptable format for comprehension questions if districts choose to use them
Q: Is there a specific length required for the reading passages?
It is suggested that districts stay within the nine to 11 grade band passage length of 500 to 1,500 words (Literary and Informational Text/Literary Nonfiction).
Q: How many texts do students need to read in total?
Students need to read at least two texts (one literary and one informational). Districts may use paired passages for the ELA appeals process, but it is not a requirement.
Q: Do the reading passages and writing tasks need to be connected?
Yes. The standards emphasize the integration of reading and writing so we encourage districts to connect the reading and writing tasks. For example, students respond to a series of questions about the text and then respond to a writing task.
Q: Can I use the same response tasks for different students?
Yes. Districts may use the same CRTs for any students who need to participate in portfolio appeals.
Q: Can I submit graded class work instead of CRTs?
No. There are specific requirements for CRTs that must be adhered to for portfolio appeals.
Q: Can we use old Alternative High School Assessment (AHSA) materials or NJSLA-ELA practice materials?
No. AHSA is not aligned to New Jersey Student Learning Standards, so it would not be appropriate to use for portfolio appeals. The NJSLA-ELA practice materials are non-secure items with answer documents that are available publicly. They are a helpful tool for developing your own CRTs, but the public availability of answer documents makes them inappropriate for use as evidence within the portfolio appeals process.
Q: Can we use the same CRTs developed in prior years?
Yes. If your CRTs align to the requirements of the current portfolio appeals process, they are acceptable for continued use.
Q: Are we required to submit ELA appeals to the NJDOE for review prior to administering the tasks?
No. However, districts may reach out to the Office of Assessments if they are concerned about the alignment of their CRTs with the current portfolio appeals process.
Q: Can I assess the students in their native language?
Yes. However, districts will need to do the following:
- Write the CRT in English.
- Have the CRT translated into the student's native language, using a district selected process for translation services.
- After the student has responded in their native language, the student response must be translated into English.
- For more information, please review the Special Populations Guidance for Portfolio Appeals.
Q: Do I need to score student writing using the NJSLA-ELA rubrics?
Yes. NJSLA-ELA has developed holistic rubrics for the scoring of writing tasks. The rubrics align to the standards and the writing evidence statements.
- Research Simulation Task and Literary Analysis Task Rubric (Grades 6 to 11) — Scored for reading comprehension/written expression and knowledge of language and conventions. This rubric should be used for scoring informative/explanatory and argument writing.
- Narrative Writing Task Rubric (Grades 6 to 11) — Requires that students write to a text stimulus but is only scored for written expression and knowledge of language and conventions. This rubric should be used for scoring narrative writing.
Note: Students receive a score for each construct. The reported scores should match the rubric — no half points should be awarded.
Q: What are the passing score requirements?
Students must meet the following score requirements for reading and writing:
- In reading, students must receive a passing score of at least 50 percent on each reading task. The number of items as well as the total points possible is determined by the school/district.
- In writing, students must score a minimum of “2” or higher on each rubric construct to meet the passing requirement.
Q: What do we need to keep in district for each ELA appeal?
Districts should maintain the following in district for each student:
- A completed Education Proficiency Plan (EPP) that includes the most current student transcript, documentation of performance on Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC)/New Jersey Student Learning Assessment (NJSLA) and/or substitute competency assessments, and an intervention plan implemented to ensure the student met the graduation assessment requirement.
- CRTs in ELA in which the student is attempting to meet the graduation assessment requirement.
- Four graded responses to CRTs for ELA (2 reading, 2 writing).
- A completed ELA Portfolio Appeal Cover Sheet with information for each graded student response. The ELA Portfolio Appeal Cover Sheet is available for download on the website.
Note: All documents can be found on the Graduation Assessment Requirement webpage under the section Graduation Portfolio Appeal.
Q: What do I do if I have further questions?
If you have any questions, please contact the NJDOE’s Office of Assessments at email@example.com or (609) 376-3960