11th/12th-Grade English Language Arts (ELA) Standards

highschool-languageJuniors and seniors learn to evaluate complex arguments and understand intricate written materials  as they transition to a community or four-year college, specialized job training or into the professional world. The English Language Arts benchmarks are the same for 11th and 12th grade. Here are some examples of what your daughter or son will learn over the year, questions to ask his or her teachers and tips for reinforcing these skills at home.

Reading Literature and Informational Text

  • Read increasingly challenging texts; examine themes and use evidence to support summaries and analyses of stories, plays, essays, poems and informational text.
  • When studying the work of historical and modern authors, evaluate how their word choices and phrasing convey meaning and add complexity to the text. For example, how a Supreme Court decision is based on an article of the Constitution.
  • Expand vocabulary by learning and using new words and phrases; choose from various reading techniques to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words.


  • Write opinion or persuasive essays that include fairly used arguments and counterarguments; use accurate information from trustworthy sources to make a point.
  • Complete research projects using painstaking research and relevant facts and information to support theories and claims about the subject.
  • When writing a true or fictional narrative, establish characters’ points of view, depict a central conflict and provide descriptive details, dialogue and settings.

Speaking and Listening

  • Evaluate others’ points of view during class discussions; give thoughtful feedback on the effectiveness of their arguments, veracity of their evidence and overall strength of their viewpoint; accept feedback on personal views graciously.
  • Give class presentations that contain an original perspective on a subject, use evidence to support arguments, and address opposing points of view.


  • Understand and use complex phrases and figures of speech including hyperbole; use a range of techniques to determine an unfamiliar word’s meaning.
  • Use proper spelling, capitalization, and punctuation in written assignments; demonstrate knowledge of standard English conventions when speaking.

Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects

The Common Core State Standards for 11th and 12th grade also include literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects. It is important to note that these literacy standards supplement content standards in the aforementioned subjects — not replace them. Individual states determine how to fold these standards into existing standards.

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