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New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards

May 1996

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New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards
for Language Arts Literacy


Language Arts are the abilities that enable one to think logically and creatively; express ideas; understand and participate meaningfully in spoken, written, and nonverbal communications; formulate and answer questions; and search for, organize, evaluate, and apply information. The language arts are integrative, interactive ways of thinking that develop through reading, writing, speaking, listening, and viewing. Literacy is the ability to think, as well as know how to acquire knowledge for thinking and communicating. Literacy is more than the acquisition of a specific, predetermined set of skills in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and viewing. It is also recognizing one's own purposes for thinking and communicating (through print or nonprint, verbal or nonverbal means) and being able to use one's own resources to achieve those purposes.

Voices in the classroom resound when children use language to represent experience. For children, as for everyone, language is the primary instrument for making sense of the world and a primary way to connect with others. While language is a powerful means of communicating, it goes beyond the mere sharing of ideas and information. Language evokes histories, emotions, values, issues, knowledge, and inventions. It is what we share and what sets us apart, one from another.

The New Jersey core curriculum standards for Language Arts Literacy capture language experiences all children need in order to grow intellectually, socially, and emotionally in classrooms across the curriculum. The standards are intended to promote students' capacities to construct meaning in any arena, with others as well as on their own. If students learn to read, write, speak, listen, and view critically, strategically, and creatively, and if they learn to use these arts individually and in groups, they will have the literacy skills they need to discover personal and shared meaning throughout their lives.

Concerns about how these standards represent language arts reveal two views about why language arts are essential learning. On the one hand, we want students to develop the skills they will need to bring to society as adults: critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity. On the other hand, we want students to discover the inner joy and self-illumination that come with reading great literature and communicating well in speech and writing, and to take these into their adult lives as well. The two views are complementary: As we strive for the goals of one, we can foster the goals of the other.

Underlying the Standards for Language Arts Literacy are four assumptions about language learning. First, language use is an active process of constructing meaning. Even the most quiet listener is actively working to link prior knowledge and understanding to what other people say. Second, language develops in a social context. While we use language in private activities, our use of language almost always relates to others. We are the active audience for those who create spoken, written, or visual texts; others listen to our thoughts and read our writing. Third, language ability increases in complexity if language is used in increasingly complex ways. Language learners must engage in texts and conversations that are rich in ideas and increasingly complex in the patterns of language they display. Finally, learners achieve language arts literacy not by adding skills one-by-one to their repertoire, but rather by using and exploring language in its many dimensions.

Although the standards define five language arts, these arts are not discrete skills or content. The language arts are interdependent processes that inform and enrich each other, more often than not merging in an integrated act of learning and knowing. The division of language arts into separate standards is merely a method that allows us to highlight the special features of each and to identify developmentally appropriate behaviors among language arts learners. The separation is not meant to suggest hierarchical order, or any linear or sequential approach to literacy instruction. The standards should be construed and applied as integrated aspects of teaching and learning. They are intended not as a curriculum guide, but as a catalyst for curriculum development and revision.

Language Arts Literacy List Of Standards


All Students Will Speak For A Variety Of Real Purposes And Audiences.


All Students Will Listen Actively In A Variety Of Situations To Information From A Variety Of Sources .


All Students Will Write In Clear, Concise, Organized Language That Varies In Content And Form For Different Audiences And Purposes.


All Students Will Read Various Materials And Texts With Comprehension And Critical Analysis.


All Students Will View, Understand, And Use Nontextual Visual Information.

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