The Debrief

How Newsela ELA Supports Standards and Engagement

The Newsela Team
Jan 21, 2020

When it comes to creating English Language Arts (ELA) curricula, school administrators face a unique balancing act: ensuring standards-aligned instruction while empowering teachers to engage students with diverse, relevant content. That’s why we’re so excited about Newsela ELA, which was designed to provide students and teachers with authentic, real-world content that builds skills—not just for standardized tests, but for life.

With Newsela ELA we’re dedicated to a better ELA experience, with content that’s accessible to every student and inspires a love of learning. We want to help schools address gaps in performance on tested ELA skills, while making sure teachers don’t have to sacrifice engaging content or the skills they need to teach.

One way we do it? Every Newsela article has a 4-question quiz that’s aligned to at least one of 8 Common Core Anchor Standards, listed below. Using Newsela ELA, teachers can access an overview of how students are performing against each reading standard, based on the results of quizzes they’ve completed.

Reviewing the data we have on quiz-taking, we’re proud of the level of engagement we’ve seen from students and teachers. Since the start of the school year this fall, 2,433,810 students have taken 10,719,126 standards-aligned quizzes:

R.1: What the Text Says: 1,884,426 quiz scores

R.2: Central Idea: 1,719,087 quiz scores

R.3: People, Events & Ideas: 1,740,900 scores

R.4: Word Meaning & Choice: 1,192,482 scores

R.5: Text Structure: 1,207,333 scores

R.6: Point of View/Purpose: 746,478 scores

R.7: Multimedia: 560,223 scores

R.8: Arguments & Claims: 254,957 scores

One of the questions we explored when curating this data was: Which standards do students find hardest? We found that across the grades, average quiz scores are highest for Word Meaning & Choice and lowest for Arguments & Claims. Surprising? Arguments & Claims articles require nearly twice the work of students as they read arguments on both sides of an issue in order to dissect the validity of one assertion versus another. That's hard work! Word Meaning & Choice, however, often boils down to simply straight-up knowing the word or being able to infer its meaning from context. Not so difficult once you get the hang of it (and something on which students improve from elementary to middle to high school grades).

We’re committed to supporting teachers with relevant, real-world content for students, and to continuing to provide standards-aligned quiz questions for every article in Newsela. To learn more about Newsela ELA, visit

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