Frequently Asked Questions
This English language arts FAQ page is divided into the following sections:
- Learning Standards/Curriculum/Instruction
- Part 100 Regulations/Other Requirements
- Educator Participation in State Education Department Initiatives/Committees
- Contact Information
Note: In school year 2012-13, all teachers in grades P-8 are implementing Common Core State Standards (CCSS)-aligned instruction. All teachers in grades 9-12 are in the process of implementing CCSS-aligned units and are building content capacity. To learn more about the implementation timeline, please see
What are Learning Standards?
Learning Standards are defined as the knowledge, skills, and understandings that individuals can and do habitually demonstrate over time as a result of skilled instruction and experience. In 1996, the New York State Regents approved 28 learning standards in seven content areas.
Have the New York State English Language Arts Learning Standards changed?
In January 2011, the Board of Regents adopted the P-12 Common Core Learning Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy, which will be implemented in schools in school year 2012-13. To learn more about the P-12 Common Core Learning Standards for ELA & Literacy, please visit the EngageNY Common Core website at
Are the English language arts learning standards applicable to all content areas?
Reading, writing, listening, and speaking have connections to all content areas. Success in school and in life is determined in large part by competence in language. As a significant means for developing students' abilities to use their minds well, language is a central factor in learning for all students and in all disciplines. Thinking creatively, making informed and reasoned judgments, producing and inventing, critiquing and analyzing - all are facilitated through language. As a lifelong resource, skillful use of language is valued in all areas of our lives in which we participate - as adults, as parents, as workers, and as members of social and civic organizations. In fact, skillful use of language may be the single most important means of realizing the overarching goal of education.
What is the 2005 English Language Arts Core Curriculum?
The English Language Arts Core Curriculum (2005) provides an additional level of grade-level specificity to the ELA learning standards that were approved in 1996. It respects the tradition of local (school/district) choice in New York that empowers educators to select texts, identify products, and use a rich array of instructional strategies and activities to meet student learning needs. Local school districts organize, plan, and align local curriculum around NY State standards and core curriculum and, in so doing, shape and implement their local philosophy. Note: In school year 2012-13, the P-12 Common Core Learning Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy will be the student achievement expectations for English Language Arts in NY State.
What are the Learning Standards for English Language Arts approved in 1996?
For each standard, students will read, write, listen, and speak* for
- Information and Understanding | Standard 1
- Literary Response and Expression | Standard 2
- Critical Analysis and Evaluation | Standard 3
- Social Interaction | Standard 4
*Receptive language skills are listening and reading; expressive language
skills are writing and speaking.
To read the new P-12 Common Core Learning Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy, which will be implemented in schools in 2012-13, please see
What are key ideas, as included in the 2005 ELA Core Curriculum?
Key ideas are the major domains (skills, knowledge, or ideas) that define fields of study or areas of learning. Key ideas define the respective learning standards in specific content areas or fundamental skills. In the English Language Arts Core Curriculum, the four key ideas are reading, writing, listening, and speaking.
What are performance indicators?
Performance indicators are descriptions of required student-achievement expectations or student skills. With the enactment of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), NYS has delineated the performance indicators grade-by-grade, prekindergarten through grade 12.
How might ELA standards be used to strengthen local curriculum?
Locally developed programs for raising student achievement and improving professional practice are most effective when they are:
- initiated by those involved in implementation
- developed in a culture of shared inquiry
- focused on a common mission that integrates local priorities with State policies and purposes
Is it local choice for a school/district to instruct in manuscript (print) and/or cursive writing?
Yes, according to the 2005 ELA Core Curriculum and the Common Core Learning Standards, the instructional approach to teaching handwriting is a local decision.
Are samples of learning experiences (lesson plans) available?
For English Language Arts, the New York State P-12 Curriculum Modules, which are voluntary for school districts to use, will include a number of resources, including lesson plans, recommended texts, homework, performance tasks, assessments, plus much more. These resources will be available beginning in the 2012-13 school year at the following website (EngageNY): http://www.engageny.org/english-language-arts
What is the recommended, minimal number of books students should read per year?
The Department provides guidance for educators to encourage student reading for many purposes--enjoyment, instruction, information, etc. The introduction to the 1998 English Language Arts Resource Guide with Core Curriculum ( 620.19) and the introduction to the ELA Core Curriculum (May 2005) ( 1005 KB) both include guidance from educators who helped in the development of the New York State English Language Arts Learning Standards. In those documents, it is suggested that students read a minimum of 25 books, or the equivalent, per year, across all content areas (subjects) and standard areas. Since the development of curriculum and selection of materials and textbooks is a matter of local choice in New York State, decisions about the recommended amount of reading are made at the local level. Additionally, the P-12 Common Core Learning Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy do not specify the total number of books students should read throughout the year.
What is the recommended, minimal amount students should write per year?
The Department provides guidance for educators to encourage student writing for many purposes. The introduction to the 1998 English Language Arts Resource Guide with Core Curriculum ( 620.19) and introduction to the ELA Core Curriculum (May 2005) ( 1005 KB) both include guidance from educators who helped in the development of the learning standards. In those documents, it is suggested that students write at least 1,000 words per month, across all content areas (subjects) and standards. Since the development of curriculum is a matter of local choice in New York State, decisions about the recommended amount of writing are made at the local level. Additionally, the P-12 Common Core Learning Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy do not specify the total amount of writing that students should produce throughout the year; this is a local decision.
Does the New York State Education Department have a required curriculum, including reading, spelling, or vocabulary lists?
It is the local school district's responsibility to implement a curriculum which will provide students opportunities to achieve the New York State learning standards. Beginning in school year 2012-13, the New York State Education Department will be providing sample P-12 Curriculum Modules for school districts to use. These modules, which will be aligned to the P-12 Common Core Learning Standards, are voluntary for educators to use. To learn more about the New York State P-12 Curriculum Modules for English Language Arts & Literacy, please see following page:
How can I learn more about education services for students with disabilities?
The Office of P-12 Special Education is the best source of information regarding New York State law, regulation, and policy governing the education of students with disabilities. This information is available at http://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/
How can I learn more about education services for English language learners?
The Office of Bilingual Education and Foreign Language Studies is a resource for information regarding support and technical assistance for Districts, Charter Schools, Non-Public Schools and other organizations (Universities, State Educational Organizations, etc.) in the development, implementation, and evaluation of programs for limited English proficient / English language learners (LEP/ELLs), as well as foreign language (FL) students within the State’s P-16 initiative http://www.p12.nysed.gov/biling/
What is contained in the website “Part 100 of the Regulations of The Commissioner of Education”?
The Part 100 Regulations website provides information about general education and graduation requirements in NY State. Links to regulatory language, questions/answers regarding policy, appropriate program offices, resource materials, and "hot topics" are included.
What is AIS - Academic Intervention Services?
AIS is additional instruction intended to assist students who are at risk of not achieving the State learning standards in English language arts, mathematics, social studies, and/or science. For additional information, please refer to http://www.p12.nysed.gov/part100/pages/topics.html (see # 3).
What are New York State's graduation requirements for English?
According to Part 100 of the Regulations of the Commissioner for Education, to receive a Regents-endorsed diploma, a student must earn four units of credit in English language arts and achieve a score of 65 or above on the Regents Comprehensive Examination in English. Please refer to
What English language arts tests are given to PreK-12 students in New York State?
Beginning in the 2005-2006 school year, under the federally mandated No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), New York State replaced the Grade 4 and 8 testing program with the new grades 3-8 testing program, which measures student attainment of the State ELA Standards. At the high school level, successfully passing the Regents Comprehensive Examination in English is a graduation requirement for earning a Regents diploma.To learn more about these assessments, please visit the Office of State Assessment website at http://www.p12.nysed.gov/assessment/.
What are the dates for the Elementary- and Middle-Level ELA State assessments for the Grade 3-8 Testing Program
The New York State Education Department's Office of State Assessment is committed to informing the public of all important State-administered testing dates, including releasing schedules for upcoming testing dates. The schedules for the Grades 3-8 Testing Program and the Regents Comprehensive Examination in English can be accessed at
What are the New York State approved Alternative Examinations for meeting the requirements for a local or Regents diploma?
The New York State Department of Education Assessment Panel meets periodically to review proposals for alternative assessments to the Regents examinations and to make recommendations to the Commissioner of Education about whether the proposed alternatives should be approved. Several examinations have been approved, and the minimum acceptable scores have been set. A complete listing of all SED-approved alternative assessments may be found at www.p12.nysed.gov/assessment/hsgen/archive/list.pdf
What are New York State Alternate assessments?
The New York State Alternate Assessment (NYSAA) is a part of the New York State Testing Program. It is a datafolio-style assessment in which students with severe cognitive disabilities demonstrate their performance toward achieving the New York State learning standards. Eligibility for participation in NYSAA is determined by the Committee on Special Education (CSE) according to criteria described in the Administrators' Manual. For additional information, please refer to http://www.p12.nysed.gov/assessment/nysaa/
What are Testing Accommodations?
Many students require testing accommodations in order to participate in testing programs. Such accommodations provide students with the ability to demonstrate mastery of skills and attainment of knowledge without being limited or unfairly restricted due to the effects of a disability. For information on testing accommodations for students please see the Office of State Assessment's Testing Accomodations page at http://www.p12.nysed.gov/assessment/accommodations/
How can I participate in the state's English Language Arts program?
The Education Department values teachers' expert opinions in guiding this important work and encourages increased involvement from all parts of the State. SED has recently issued a "Call for Expertise" to solicit teacher interest in state-level work. Your name will be entered into our database maintained by the Curriculum, Instruction and Instructional Technology Team. After you enter your information, you will be contacted by SED if you are selected to participate in a future curriculum committee.
If you are interested in writing items/test questions for the Regents Comprehensive
Examination in English or participating in the rangefinding, item review,
final eyes, or passage selection for the Grades 3-8 ELA Testing Program,
please visit the following Office of State Assessment website:
Is the "Call for Expertise" available in all content areas?
Yes, the "Call for Expertise" has been solicited by all content areas and is accessed from a number of sites. However, regardless of where the "Call for Expertise" is completed, the information is registered in a central database for use by all offices in SED.