English Language Arts Education

Nebraska’s College and Career Ready Standards for English Language Arts

Adopted by the State Board of Education on September 2, 2021

2021 English Language Arts Standards

2021 ELA Standards (vertical) (pdf)

The Student-friendly Standards are “I can…” statements directly correlated to Nebraska’s 2021 College and Career Ready Standards for English Language Arts. These statements were written using accessible language that is consistent with the Standards and designed to spiral between grade levels for coherence in early literacy instruction. Student-friendly standards are written so that all students can easily understand the statements and to guide their own learning within district-approved, grade-level instructional materials. The Standards can be printed and displayed in classrooms, and may also be shared with families and other caregivers to support foundational skills, along with the NDE’s Read-At-Home Plan for Student Success.

2021 ELA Standards Rollout Resources

An Overview of ELA Standards:

Standards establish what students should know and be able to do by the end of a specified grade level. English Language Arts (ELA) standards are created and revised by stakeholders across the state, and are adopted by the Nebraska State Board of Education at the end of a 7-year cycle. The standards challenge students to develop the essential literacy skills needed to succeed in college, career, and life. They cover a broad array of core knowledge and  proficiencies in areas such as reading, writing, and listening and speaking.

Nebraska’s standards are organized with three levels of specificity:

  • K-12 Comprehensive Statements – Identify broad, general statements that are not grade-level specific and cover big ides in English Language Arts (Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, and Multiple Literacies.)
  • Grade-Level Expectations – Statements that identify what students should know and be able to do by the end of each identified grade/band. These are organized into categories, but not course specific.
  • Curricular Indicators – Specific information to distinguish expectations between grade levels. They are no longer simply examples, but are considered an integral part of the standard to be taught.

Nebraska has historically been a local control state with no mandated curriculum or textbooks. The standards are not meant to be a curriculum. Rather, districts are expected to align their local curriculum to the Nebraska Standards to add more specificity. Nebraska’s draft standards are written using verbiage that describes the knowledge and skills students are expected to master at the various grade levels rather than using performance expectation language. Districts also have the choice to adopt their own standards only if they are more rigorous than the state standards.

Overview of ELA Revision Process

ELA Rollout Session 1: The Standards in Instruction

Presented by Marissa Payzant (ELA Specialist), Abby Burke (Reading Specialist), Angela Dubuc (Early Literacy Education Specialist)

ELA Unit Internalization

In January 2022, the NDE, ESU staff developers, and Instruction Partners collaborated to provide a learning experience on the successful and sustained implementation of high-quality instructional materials. Participants engaged in a unit internalization study in Mathematics and English Language Arts content areas and explored the phases of Instruction Partners’ Curriculum Support Guide & Curriculum Support Guide Workbook along with resources from the Nebraska Instructional Materials Collaborative. Session materials are linked below. For questions, please contact becky.michael@nebraska.gov.

Key Instructional Shifts for Quality Implementation CCR Standards

Academic standards provide a framework for ensuring quality teaching and learning. Recent revisions and updates to Nebraska content standards, per Nebraska Revised Statute 79-760.01, require a number of key shifts that are essential to fulfill the vision of Nebraska’s College and Career Readiness (CCR) Standards for English Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science. These shifts require thoughtful changes in instruction. Practitioners must develop a deep understanding of the CCR standards as well as their implications for teaching and learning. By doing so, they equip students with the body of knowledge and skills that prepares them for success in college, career, and civic life. This document provides an overview of the key instructional shifts in the subject areas of English Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science.

2021 Key Instructional Shifts for ELA (pdf)

Walk to Unlock Nebraska

Walk to Unlock Nebraska - History, Agriculture, Nature

Creativity is a necessity when working with youth. Walk 2 Unlock Nebraska allows classrooms and out-of-school clubs the opportunity to engage youth to learn about agriculture, nature, historical, and science-based content along one of four Nebraska trails. Two trails are currently open. The next two will be built over the 2023-2024 school year.

Walk 2 Unlock supports the whole child, working to provide activities to support body and mind. The program features an interactive map of Nebraska that allows users to track their locally achieved physical activity miles to make progress on virtual trails across the state. As students travel across the virtual trails, they will encounter checkpoints to learn more about the state through STEAM lessons appropriate for grades K-8th. Check out for Walk to Unlock Nebraska for more information.

Walk to Unlock Nebraska is a program of the Nebraska Department of Education Healthy Schools Program in partnership with Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation’s Agriculture in the Classroom, Nebraska Game and Parks, Nebraska Tourism, Midwest Dairy, History Nebraska, and Nebraska Public Media.

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Becky Michael

English Language Arts Content Specialist

Office of Teaching, Learning, and Assessment

500 S. 84th Street, Lincoln, NE 68510-2611

E: becky.michael@nebraska.gov

P: (531) 893-0131

Updated March 6, 2024 12:17pm