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. Students in ELA classrooms and across the content areas take in information through reading, listening, and viewing from both literary and informational sources. Students also write, speak, and exchange ideas to express themselves and communicate with others. The ability to use and understand language is critical to every aspect of students’ lives and their future career and college readiness.

English Language Arts (ELA) Standards Review

The Minnesota Department of Education began the review by forming the 2019-20 Minnesota K-12 ELA Education Standards Committee. This committee has met during the 2019-20 school year to review the current (2010) standards, examine research, solicit feedback, and propose needed revisions. The review process has included two drafts which were made available to the public for comment. The 2020 Minnesota K-12 English Language Arts Standards (Commissioner Approved Draft) is now available.

English Language Arts Standards Implementation Delay

To provide flexibility for districts in implementing new standards as the state emerges from COVID-19, MDE will be delaying the required implementation of the Science and the English Language Arts standards to the 2024-25 and 2025-26 school years, respectively. Implementation dates for each content area are set as part of the rulemaking process to allow flexibility for implementation needs. With both of these two content areas still in the rulemaking process, MDE will use that opportunity to update the proposed rule language to reflect the new implementation date. Since the MCAs are based on the standards, the Science MCA – IV will be delayed until the spring of 2025 for grades five, eight, and high school, and the Reading MCA – IV will be delayed until the spring of 2026 for grades three through eight and high school. Although districts are not required to begin work to implement the standards, MDE will continue to engage in test specifications and development to be prepared for the MCA – IVs in spring of 2025 and 2026. 

2020 English Language Arts (ELA) Standards Implementation Resources

Standards, Assessments and Graduation Requirements

The Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in English Language Arts (2010), which include reading, writing, speaking, viewing, listening, media literacy, and language standards, were revised in 2010 and were to be implemented by the 2012-13 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 ELA standards are currently under review and are due to the commissioner by September 1, 2020.
Minnesota Academic Standards-English Language Arts Frequently Asked Questions
Supporting materials for districts working with standards include the Academic Standards in English Language Arts (2010) - Spreadsheet, the English Language Arts Word Alignment Form Grades 6-12 and English Language Arts Word Alignment Form Grades K-5. 

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 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.
Graduation requirements:
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.

Professional Learning and Coming Events

Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS)

Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) is in-depth professional development on fundamentals of literacy instruction following the Science of Reading. The training is suited for K-5 classroom teachers, secondary interventionists, special education teachers, reading specialists, literacy coaches, and administrators, as well as related service providers such as school psychologists and speech pathologists. LETRS is one provider of professional development in the fundamentals of literacy instruction.

Mapping the Journey from Standards to Lessons Modules

The modules available below are designed to guide educators, both individuals and teams, through a process for implementing a set of standards, from understanding the standards to examining student work. A module may include a protocol, discussion guide, video classroom demonstration or a link to resources. Each module is self-paced and can be completed in 30 to 45 minutes.

Understanding Learning Targets  - 1/9/20 
Learn the importance of using learning targets by watching two classroom demonstrations. Identify an audience and purpose for a learning target and write one for a classroom lesson or unit. 

Legislative Initiatives and Special Projects

Read Well by Third Grade / Early Reading Proficiency 

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 third grade reading proficiency objective of districts’ World’s Best Workforce plans (Minn. Stat. § 120B.11). The Reading Proficiency webpage provides 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). The Read Well by Third Grade Data and Plan Upload submission is due to MDE each year by July 1.

Content Specialist Contact Information

Leigh Nida, Literacy Specialist, at 651-582-8615 or mde.academic-standards@state.mn.us.
Jennifer Wazlawik, Literacy Specialist, at 651-582-8643 or mde.academic-standards@state.mn.us

Resources for Instruction and Learning


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 school wide 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. 

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

  • Convergence Insufficiency (CI) Fact Sheet.pdf - 4/5/21
  •  - 3/29/21
    Frequently Asked Questions about Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in English Language Arts (2010)
  •  - 6/18/20
  •  - 1/3/20
  • 2019-20 Minnesota English Language Arts Standards Committee - 11/8/19
  • 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.
  • 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