English Language Arts
The New Jersey Student Learning Standards for English Language Arts (NJSLS-ELA) build on the best of existing standards and reflect the skills and knowledge students need to succeed in college, career, and life. They define general, cross-disciplinary literacy expectations that must be met for students to be prepared to enter college and workforce training programs ready to succeed. The K-12 grade-specific standards define end-of-year expectations and a cumulative progression designed to enable students to meet college and career readiness expectations no later than the end of high school.
Students advancing through the grades are expected to meet each year’s grade-specific standards, retain or further develop skills and understandings mastered in preceding grades, and work steadily toward meeting the more general expectations described by the standards.
2016 New Jersey Student Learning Standards for
English Language Arts
The ELA Standards were revised in 2016, with the recommendations of teams of teachers, parents, administrators, supervisors and other stakeholders and reflect the strong beliefs that:
- Literature and informational (nonfiction) text are important for our students and should maintain their rightful place in our classrooms;
- Background knowledge and motivation are critical to the success of students when learning to read and when accessing complex text;
- Research by students provides the opportunity to learn more about a subject, but equally as important, provides students the opportunity to look beyond their research to questions left unanswered (new avenues for student research);
- Using evidence remains a critical skill, interspersed throughout the standards, allowing students to ground their thinking in the work of authors and experts in literature and in the content areas;
- Literacy must be recognized and guided in content areas so that students recognize the academic vocabulary, media representations, and power of language inherent in the work of scholars and experts; and
- The importance of foundational skills in the early grades, as students learn to read, cannot be overstated and calls for targeted, sustained intervention at any point of struggle for a student.
The NJDOE recommends 90-minutes of uninterrupted literacy instruction for all students in grades K-5, and 80 minutes for grades 6 through 8.
The NJSLS-ELA feature the following elements:
- Anchor Standards: general expectations consistent across grades that must be met for students to be prepared to enter college and workforce training programs ready to succeed.
- Strands: Broad ideas nested within each of the anchor standards that describe the areas of focus for the NJSLS-ELA.
- Progress Indicators: define grade-specific expectations and frame a cumulative progression designed to enable students to meet college and career readiness expectations no later than the end of high school.
- Companion Standards: Grades 6-12 feature content area-specific guidance in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects based on anchor standards, and include expectations refined by the unique literacy requirements of the particular discipline(s).
Reading (NJSLA.R): Text complexity and the growth of comprehension
The Reading anchor standards place equal emphasis on the sophistication of what students read and the skill with which they read. NJSLA.R defines a grade-by-grade “staircase” of increasing text complexity that rises from beginning reading to the college and career readiness level. Whatever they are reading, students must also show a steadily growing ability to discern more from and make fuller use of text, including making an increasing number of connections among ideas and between texts, considering a wider range of textual evidence, and becoming more sensitive to inconsistencies, ambiguities, and poor reasoning in texts.
Writing (NJSLA.W): Text types, responding to reading, and research
The Writing anchor standards acknowledge the fact that whereas some writing skills, such as the ability to plan, revise, edit, and publish, are applicable to many types of writing, other skills are more properly defined in terms of specific writing types: arguments, informative/explanatory texts, and narratives. NJSLA.W stresses the importance of the writing-reading connection by requiring students to draw upon and write about evidence from literary and informational texts. Because of the centrality of writing to most forms of inquiry, research standards are prominently included in this strand, though skills important to research are infused throughout the document.
Speaking and Listening (NJSLA.SL): Flexible communication and collaboration
Including but not limited to skills necessary for formal presentations, the Speaking and Listening anchor standards require students to develop a range of broadly useful oral communication and interpersonal skills. Students must learn to work together, express and listen carefully to ideas, integrate information from oral, visual, quantitative, and media sources, evaluate what they hear, use media and visual displays strategically to help achieve communicative purposes, and adapt speech to context and task.
Language (NJSLA.L): Conventions, effective use, and vocabulary
The Language anchor standards include the essential “rules” of standard written and spoken English, but they also approach language as a matter of craft and informed choice among alternatives. The vocabulary standards focus on understanding words and phrases, their relationships, and their nuances and on acquiring new vocabulary, particularly general academic and domain-specific words and phrases.
Range and Content in Reading
To build a foundation for college and career readiness, students must read widely and deeply from among a broad range of high-quality, increasingly challenging literary and informational texts. Through extensive reading of stories, dramas, poems, and myths from diverse cultures and different time periods, students gain literary and cultural knowledge as well as familiarity with various text structures and elements. By reading texts in history/social studies, science, and other disciplines, students build a foundation of knowledge in these fields that will also give them the background to be better readers in all content areas. Students can only gain this foundation when the curriculum is intentionally and coherently structured to develop rich content knowledge within and across grades. Students also acquire the habits of reading independently and closely, which are essential.
Range and Content in Writing
To build a foundation for college and career readiness, students need to learn to use writing as a way of offering and supporting opinions, demonstrating understanding of the subjects they are studying, and conveying real and imagined experiences and events. They learn to appreciate that a key purpose of writing is to communicate clearly to an external, sometimes unfamiliar audience, and they begin to adapt the form and content of their writing to accomplish a particular task and purpose. They develop the capacity to build knowledge on a subject through research projects and to respond analytically to literary and informational sources. To meet these goals, students must devote significant time and effort to writing, producing numerous pieces over short and extended time frames throughout the year.
Range and Content in Speaking and Listening
To build a foundation for college and career readiness, students must have ample opportunities to take part in a variety of rich, structured conversations—as part of a whole class, in small groups, and with a partner. Being productive members of these conversations requires that students contribute accurate, relevant information; respond to and develop what others have said; make comparisons and contrasts; and analyze and synthesize a multitude of ideas in various domains. New technologies have broadened and expanded the role that speaking and listening play in acquiring and sharing knowledge and have tightened their link to other forms of communication. Digital texts confront students with the potential for continually updated content and dynamically changing combinations of words, graphics, images, hyperlinks, and embedded video and audio.
Range and Content in Language
To build a foundation for college and career readiness in language, students must gain control over many conventions of standard English grammar, usage, and mechanics as well as learn other ways to use language to convey meaning effectively. They must also be able to determine or clarify the meaning of grade-appropriate words encountered through listening, reading, and media use; come to appreciate that words have nonliteral meanings, shades of meaning, and relationships to other words; and expand their vocabulary in the course of studying content. The inclusion of Language standards in their own strand should not be taken as an indication that skills related to conventions, effective language use, and vocabulary are unimportant to reading, writing, speaking, and listening; indeed, they are inseparable from such contexts.
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