English language arts (ELA) are all of the communication and language skills and processes people use every day to receive and send information. We receive information through listening, viewing, and reading, and we send information through writing, speaking, facial expression, body language, and auditory and visual representations. We use language to learn, to question, to share feelings, to help others, to be part of civilization. The ability to use and understand language, both spoken and written, is critical to every aspect of students’ lives.
Students learn and apply knowledge of the English language by gathering, comprehending, evaluating, synthesizing, and reporting information and ideas, by conducting original research in order to answer questions and solve problems, and by analyzing and creating a range of print and non-print texts in old and new media. They also explore the literature of several cultures and historical periods and create their own literature, learning how purpose, audience and cultural perspective impact one’s use of language along the way.
The Minnesota Department of Education supports language arts achievement for all learners by providing guidance and technical assistance on implementation of academic standards, current literacy best practices, multi-tiered systems of intervention, and policy administration.
Standards, Assessments and Graduation Requirements
The Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in English Language Arts, which include reading, writing, speaking, viewing, listening, media literacy, and language standards, were revised in 2010. All schools must implement the 2010 standards by the 2012-2013 school year. The standards will be reviewed again during the 2018-2019 school year.
While the standards focus on English language arts in the context of an English or communications curriculum, there are also standards which target Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects contexts. The ELA standards require that students learn to write and read across disciplines, supporting students as they become college and career ready.
The Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs) and alternate assessments (MCA-Modified and Minnesota Test of Academic Skills (MTAS)) are the state tests that help districts measure student progress toward Minnesota's academic standards in the area of reading. Most students take the MCA, but students who receive special education services and meet eligibility criteria may take the MCA-Modified or the MTAS. The MCA reading tests are administered each year in grades 3-8 and in grade 10. Find more on MCAs and statewide assessments on the test administration webpage.
All of the ELA standards, including reading, writing, speaking, viewing, listening, media literacy and language are also assessed at the classroom level through teacher- and district-selected assessments created by the district or by language arts curriculum publishers and national assessment organizations.
The graduation requirements for English language arts include credit requirements and standards requirements. All students are required to satisfactorily complete four credits in English language arts and the English language arts standards. Visit the Graduation Requirements page.
The Standards Implementation Toolkit supports administrators, teachers, and others during the implementation of standards in order to prepare all students for college and for the needs of the contemporary workplace. In addition to the ELA standards, the toolkit features Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and Multi-tiered Systems of Support (MTSS). When addressed together using sound implementation practices, these three pathways to student success ensure that all students have access to the ELA standards. Access the toolkit.
The tools were developed or reviewed by MDE to ensure they are the best resources available. MDE cross-divisional staff has carefully selected these tools to ensure coherence in practice and quality. Self-assessment tools, resources for leadership teams, professional development webinars and presentations, strategies for using data for school improvements, standards-based lessons and units, practices for teaching academic vocabulary to all learners, and guides for selecting evidence-based interventions are just some of the many excellent components of the toolkit. During this school year, additional resources will be added. Training and technical assistance will also be available to school districts.
Minnesota Writing Project Collaboration
The Minnesota Department of Education works in collaboration with the Minnesota Writing Project to provide professional development on the ELA standards, best practices, and research-based instructional strategies for K-12 teachers, literacy specialists, and administrators. Writing Project teachers demonstrate lessons, share resources and provide networking opportunities to participants. Visit the Minnesota Writing Project website.
Literacy in the Content Areas
The ELA and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects Standards encourage cross-discipline collaboration in the areas of reading and writing. MDE provides technical assistance and support to individual teachers and schools through workshops and webinars facilitated by content specialists in two or more areas. Visit the Professional Development page for a list of all opportunities.