English Language Arts

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 speaking, non-verbal expression, and auditory, visual, and written representations. The ability to use and understand language is critical to every aspect of students’ lives and their future college and career readiness.

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.

Distance Learning Resources

Please visit the Student Instruction COVID-19 Resources page to find resources for providing student instruction via distance learning. On this page, you can also subscribe to email alerts to stay up to date with MDE distance learning resources.

English Language Arts (ELA) Standards Review

ELA Standards Review Committee Selected
The Minnesota Department of Education is pleased to announce the formation of the 2019-20 Minnesota K-12 ELA Education Standards Committee (see below). This committee will meet during the 2019-20 school year to review the current (2010) standards, gather feedback, and adopt new standards. The date by which all schools must implement the new standards will be determined during the rulemaking process.  For more information about the standards review process, please contact Jenny Wazlawik.

Draft #2 of Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in English Language Arts (ELA) Education

The Second Draft of the English Language Arts (ELA) Standards represents the work of the ELA Standards Review Committee.

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 and were to be implemented by the 2012-2013 school year. The standards also cover Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects and require that students learn to read and write across disciplines. The standards will be reviewed again during the 2019-2020 school year.

The Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs) and the Minnesota Test of Academic Skills (MTAS) are the state tests that help districts measure student progress toward Minnesota's academic standards. Most students take the MCA, but students with significant cognitive disabilities who receive special education services and meet eligibility criteria may take the MTAS. The MCA reading tests are administered each year in grades 3-8 and in grade 10.  Learn more about the MCAs and statewide assessments on the Statewide Testing page.

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.

The graduation requirements for English Language Arts (ELA) include credit requirements and standards requirements. All students are required to satisfactorily complete four credits in ELA encompassing the high school academic standards. Visit the Graduation Requirements page.

Special Projects and Initiatives

Minnesota Standards Portal
The Portal will contain guidance and resources to support the implementation of Minnesota’s K-12 academic standards for all students within the context of a standards-based education system.

Early Reading Proficiency (Reading Well by Third Grade)
Districts are required to develop a Local Literacy Plan to ensure that all students have achieved early reading proficiency by no later than the end of third grade. This plan addresses the 3rd grade reading proficiency objective of districts’ World’s Best Workforce plans (Minn. Stat. § 120B.11). The Reading Proficiency pages provide guidance, resources, and self-assessment checklists to assist efforts to understand and meet the demands of early reading intervention and the requirements of “Reading Well by Third Grade” (Minn. Stat. § 120B.12). Explore resources on the Reading Proficiency page.


Leadership in Reading Network
The Leadership in Reading Network (LiRN) is a collaborative effort of the Minnesota Department of Education, the Minnesota Reading Association, and the Minnesota Center for Reading Research. The network includes schoolwide literacy coaches, district literacy coordinators, administrators and other Minnesota educators who support teachers and administrators in building capacity and developing literacy programs based on research-based best practices. Visit the Minnesota Reading Association website for more information or to register.

Minnesota Writing Project
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.

Higher Education Literacy Partnership
Minnesota’s Higher Education Literacy Partnership (HELP) is a collaborative, multi-organizational effort designed to improve the educational experiences and reading proficiencies of Minnesota’s students with dyslexia and other reading difficulties. HELP works to improve the reading performance of struggling readers through professional development that fosters high quality teacher preparation throughout Minnesota’s institutions of higher education through a Distinguished Scholar’s Symposium and a summer book club. Visit the Minnesota Reading Association website for more information or to register.

Standards and Related Information

  •  - 1/3/20
  • 2019-20 Minnesota English Language Arts Standards Committee - 11/8/19
  •  - 7/19/19
  •  - 4/15/19
  • Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in English Language Arts (2010) - 8/15/18
    Literacy in History/Social Studies-See pages 80-90
  • Academic Standards in English Language Arts (2010) - Spreadsheet - 12/23/14
    New standards were to be implemented by schools no later than the 2012-13 school year.
  •  - 9/26/13
    Frequently Asked Questions about Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in English Language Arts (2010)
  • English Language Arts Word Alignment Form Grades 6-12 - 11/10/11
    Form to assist schools in aligning curriculum and assessments to the 2010 Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards
  • English Language Arts Word Alignment Form Grades K-5 - 11/10/11
    Form to assist schools in aligning curriculum and assessments to the 2010 Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards
  • Essential Instructional Practices in Early Literacy Pre-K to Grade 5 - 11/9/11
    Abstract introducing Minnesota-recommended evidence-based practices for pre-K through grade five literacy with supporting resources