Curriculum and Instruction

Frequently Asked Questions

This English language arts FAQ page is divided into the following sections:


Learning Standards/Curriculum/Instruction

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 Board of Regents approved 28 learning standards in seven content areas. In 2010, the Board of Regents adopted the Common Core Learning Standards in English Language Arts/Literacy and Mathematics. In school year 2014-15, the Board of Regents asked for a review of the Common Core Standards in English Language Arts and Literacy. Additional information can be accessed at the AIMHighNY website.

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 schools began to implement 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.

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. The P-12 Common Core Learning Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy include standards for literacy across the content areas.

Are the 1996 ELA Learning Standards and the 2005 English Language Arts Core Curriculum still applicable to schools in New York State?

Although the English Language Arts Core Curriculum (2005) is still applicable to some students who entered 9th grade prior to the 2013-14 school year and are taking coursework aligned to the 2005 standards, this set of standards is being phased out according to the "Transition to Common Core Regents Examinations in English Language Arts and Mathematics" memo. Please see the memo for specific details regarding which courses and examinations students should take.

How do the P-12 Common Core Learning Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy inform local curriculum?

Curriculum decisions are made at the local school district level in New York State. There is a 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. Additionally, New York State offers optional Common Core aligned curriculum modules for English Language Arts that may be adopted or adapted at the local level.

Does the New York State Education Department have a required curriculum, including reading, spelling, or vocabulary lists?

No. 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. In school year 2012-13, the New York State Education Department began providing sample P-12 Curriculum Modules for school districts to use. These modules, which are 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 the following page:


Is teaching cursive writing required in New York State?

Cursive writing is not included as a requirement in the P-12 Common Core Learning Standards. Teaching cursive is a local school district decision.


Where can I go to get an overview of what is included in the NYSED ELA Curriculum Modules? Are there curriculum maps available?

Yes, curriculum maps or outlines of the curriculum materials are available on EngageNY. For Prekindergarten-Grade 2, there is an overview page that describes the Listening and Learning and Skills Strands. To learn more about each section, you can click on the grade level  and then select the Listening and Learning or Skills Strand.

For Grades 3-8, there are grade-specific curriculum maps available, which outline the major focus for each module, plus the texts that are used within the module. Please note that these are the maps for the NYSED ELA Curriculum Modules. If a school or district is not using the modules, they are not required to follow the module map since curriculum is a local school district decision. At the local level, schools are required to ensure that local teaching facilitates student attainment of the Common Core Learning Standards. The maps for the NYSED ELA curriculum modules are linked on each grade-specific curriculum page.

Does New York State have a list of required texts?

No. Text selection, as well as curriculum decisions, are local school district decisions in New York State. As schools select texts, we recommend that the school district be able to describe the process for text selection so that parents and students can understand the process and why specific texts are selected.

What is the recommended minimum number of books students should read per year?

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. Student independent reading is important to literacy instruction. We recommend that teachers promote independent reading and student choice in selection of texts. The following reading resources are available on EngageNY:

Launching Independent Reading in Grades 3-5: Sample Plan

Launching Independent Reading in Grades 6-8: Sample Plan

Does New York State have a requirement for summer reading?

Not, but many local school districts include summer reading requirements as a way to support student literacy and help students learn over the summer. If a school district includes a required summer reading assignment, there are some guidelines that they must follow. Please see the following summer reading memo for additional details:


Each summer, the New York State Library shares a website and resources to promote summer reading in local and school libraries. These materials are available at http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/libdev/summer/.

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 World Languages provides support and technical assistance to Districts, Charter Schools, Non-Public Schools and other organizations (Universities, State Educational Organizations, etc.) in the development, implementation and evaluation of programs for English language learners (ELLs), as well as to world language (WL) students within the State’s P-16 initiative. http://www.p12.nysed.gov/biling/

Part 100 Regulations/Other Requirements

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 diploma, a student must earn four units of credit in English language arts and achieve a passing score on the Regents Comprehensive Examination in English or the Regents Examination in English Language Arts (Common Core). Please refer to the Part 100 Regulations for more information. To learn more about the transition to the Common Core at the high school level, please see the "Transition to Common Core Regents Examinations in English Language Arts and Mathematics" memo.

State Assessments

Which English language arts tests are required by New York State?

In New York State, students in grades 3-8 are scheduled to take the New York State English Language Arts grades 3-8 tests. At the high school level, successfully passing the Regents Examination in English is a graduation requirement for earning a Regents diploma. The Educator Guides to the 3-8 English Language Arts Tests provide helpful guidance around the content and design of these tests. http://www.engageny.org/resource/test-guides-for-english-language-arts-and-mathematics.

To learn more about these assessments, please visit the Office of State Assessment website at http://www.p12.nysed.gov/assessment/.

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?

Some 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/

Contact Information

Erik Sweet erik.sweet@nysed.gov

Kristen Sikora kristen.sikora@nysed.gov

Phone number: (518) 474-5922

Last Updated: October 28, 2015