English Language Arts » NJ Student Learning Standards & Assessment

NJ Student Learning Standards & Assessment

New Jersey Department of Education

The New Jersey Student Learning Standards for English Language Arts (ELA) build on the best of existing standards and reflect the skills and knowledge students need to succeed in college, career, and life.


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.
From 1978 until today, New Jersey has administered statewide assessments to gauge student learning. Since 1982, New Jersey has had an assessment requirement to earn a high school diploma. Over time, these assessments have become more rigorous and expansive, including essential reading, writing and mathematical concepts and providing richer information to districts, schools, and educators to better inform students and parents and to improve teaching and learning.
Standards enable districts to develop a systemic approach to ensure that all students in New Jersey receive a high quality education. Standards describe what students know and should be able to do, and standards-based assessments help ensure that students are making progress toward these learning objectives. A systematic and coherent approach to standards, standards-based assessment and instruction will play an important role in the development of the next generation of statewide assessment.