New English Language Arts & Literacy Curriculum Frameworks

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education published the final form of the updated English Language Arts and Literacy curriculum frameworks in late June.

The 2017 frameworks were approved by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in March 2017. The revisions to the frameworks were reviewed by a team of Massachusetts educators in partnership content advisors from Massachusetts institutions of higher education and DESE staff members.

Highlights of the changes include:

  • Multiple cross-references among the Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, and Language standards to increase coherence;
  • Numerous new classroom instructional examples and samples of authentic student writing from Massachusetts classrooms to clarify the meaning of the standards;
  • New sections on determining the relative complexity of literary and informational texts based on qualitative measures such as text structure, vocabulary and sentence structure, and knowledge demands;
  • An explanation of how literacy instruction-particularly in the early elementary years-is intertwined with learning in mathematics, science, social studies, the arts, and other subjects of a well-balanced curriculum;
  • New and revised Guiding Principles and a new section on preparation for college, careers, and civic participation;
  • Revised and updated glossary, bibliography, and author lists.

2017 English Language Arts and Literacy Curriculum Framework Documents

The DESE has published a series of documents to help educators wade through the changes and provide focus on the reading standards.

2017 English Language Arts and Literacy Frameworks

Highlights: 2017 Revisions to the ELA/Literacy Standards

Summary of Grade-by-Grade Detailed Revisions in ELA/Literacy

Quick Reference Guides:

MCAS ELA transition – 2018 New Test and New Frameworks for Grades 3-8

Massachusetts is transitioning from MCAS/PARCC to MCAS 2.0 in both format and test design in 2018. Also, the MCAS questions themselves will be updated to reflect the new curriculum frameworks.

The 2018 grade 3-8 English Language Arts and Literacy MCAS will be based on the newly revised 2017 curriculum frameworks

For grade 10, the 2018 English Language Arts and Literacy MCAS are aligned to the 2001/2004 and 2010 Curriculum Frameworks. The ELA/Literacy MCAS will align with the revised frameworks when MCAS 2.0 grade 10 tests are given for the first time in spring 2019.

Details on the 2017-2018 MCAS Schedule are available at

DESE Instructional Support Networks

The DESE is also hosting a series of events in 2017-2018 to support the implementation of the English Language Arts and Literacy Frameworks, the Mathematics Frameworks and the Science, Technology and Engineering Frameworks. These Instructional Support Networks will include professional learning opportunities for educators of English language learners, literacy specialists,  elementary educators, middle school educators, math specialists, curriculum specialists and science leaders.

Role of Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks

Curriculum frameworks in Massachusetts are used to guide local districts’ curriculum, units and lesson plans.  MCAS assessments are based on the curriculum frameworks and instructional decisions are made at the local level to determine the best methods and materials to prepare students based on local needs. Check with your local school or district administration to learn more about what is taught in local schools. All the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks are available at

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