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For Release: July 2, 2002


FACT SHEET   July 2, 2002

Language Arts Literacy

Revised standards in Language Arts Literacy were influenced by Governor James E. McGreevey’s commitment to early childhood literacy and from recommendations from organizations such as the National Reading Panel. The standards also contain more specific direction for reading and writing in grades K-4.

Summary

The revised standards for language arts literacy recognize the primary grades as building blocks that lay the foundation for learning and skill development so that each succeeding grade builds on the foundation achieved by all students in their efforts to become fluent readers, writers, speakers, listeners, and viewers. As language arts skills spiral and become increasingly sophisticated, students progress through the grades with increased confidence and proficiency in oral and written language, comprehension, and critical thinking skills. Language skills are essential to furthering learning, communication, career development, and the human spirit.

State Reading Goal

A primary state goal for reading, and cornerstone of Governor McGreevey’s education reform initiative, is that "Students will read well and independently by the end of the third grade." As a result of this commitment, the language arts committee has placed a strong emphasis on developing performance benchmarks in grades K-12 that reflect both a state and national perspective on reading achievement.

A set of 15 beliefs about students, teaching, and the language arts learning process were established as the underlying framework for standards revisions. The revised standards list the beliefs.

Recommendations Incorporated In Standards

The language arts standards adopted by the State Board of Education in 1996 and the revised standards continue to be aligned with national standards developed by the National Council of Teachers of English and the International Reading Association. Achieve, Inc., reviewed New Jersey’s 1996 standards in language arts literacy and provided recommendations for improvement. They suggested that the standards provide more clarity and specificity by including benchmarking at more grade levels. In addition, New Jersey standards should reflect sufficient rigor and complexity from grade level to grade level. Achieve recommended that attention be given to the primary grades and integration of phonics instruction in the context of meaningful reading and writing tasks. Achieve’s recommendations are reflected in the revised standards.

The revised standards are also influenced by the research of the National Reading Panel (2000). There are five dimensions in early reading, plus a child’s motivation to read, that must be developed so that young students become proficient readers. A comprehensive and balanced elementary literacy program should include the following areas:

  • Phonemic awareness;
  • Explicit and systematic phonics;
  • Reading fluency;
  • Reading comprehension;
  • Vocabulary development; and
  • Individual child’s motivation.