ELA Test Design

New Meridian’s ELA/L assessments are available in grades 3 – 8 as well as high school. Students read and analyze passages from real, authentic texts – both fiction and nonfiction – as well as multimedia. Students then draw upon what they’ve learned from these passages and multimedia using that knowledge respond in writing. These skills are critically important for students in college and in the workplace.

New Meridian has released a set of test specification documents, including high-level assessment blueprints and evidence tables, to inform educators of the design of the summative assessments. The assessments include both New Meridian full form and short forms.

ELA/Literacy test specification documents

Test specification documents help educators better understand the design of the ELA/Literacy assessments.

High-level blueprints define the total number of tasks and/or items for any given grade/course assessment for both parts of the test.

High-Level Blueprints

Evidence Statement Tables and Evidence Statements describe the knowledge and skills that an assessment items or a task elicits from students. These are aligned directly to the Common Core State Standards.

Reading Evidence Tables

Writing Evidence Tables


ELA/Literacy Task Models

ELA/Literacy Task Models guide the development of performance-based tasks (collections of items) that have a particular focus and elicit targeted evidence aligned to standards.

Text Analysis Worksheets

Text Analysis Worksheets help determine grade-level placement and the complexity level of passages for use on the assessment.

ELA/Literacy Scoring Rubrics

ELA/Literacy scoring rubrics are tools for scoring students’ written responses. The rubrics combine the reading comprehension and written expression traits when appropriate, honoring the focus of the CCSS through the integration of reading and writing. The rubrics also holistically measure student knowledge of language and conventions in writing. Students will receive both a reading and a writing score for their written responses.

ELA/Literacy Performance Level Descriptors – Grades 3 – 11

Results on New Meridian assessments are reported according to five performance levels that delineate the knowledge, skills and practices students are able to demonstrate:

    • Level 1: Did not yet meet expectations
    • Level 2: Partially met expectations
    • Level 3: Approached expectations
    • Level 4: Met expectations
    • Level 5: Exceeded expectations

Performance level descriptors (PLDs) indicate what a typical student at each level should be able to demonstrate based on his/her command of grade-level standards. In English Language Arts (ELA)/Literacy, the PLDs at each grade level are written for the two assessment claims of reading and writing.

Reading Claim

For the reading claim, the performance levels at each grade level are differentiated by three factors:

  • Text complexity
  • The range of accuracy in expressing reading comprehension demonstrated in student responses; and
  • The quality of evidence cited from sources read

This is an innovative departure from how ELA/literacy performance level descriptors have been written in the past, but reflective of the Common Core’s emphasis on a student’s ability to find text-based evidence for generalizations, conclusions, or inferences drawn and consistent with the Cognitive Complexity Framework for ELA/Literacy.

The Cognitive Complexity Framework guides item development and recognizes that text complexity and item/task complexity interact to determine the overall complexity of a task.

Writing Claim

For the writing claim, PLDs are written for the two sub-claims:

  • Written expression
  • Knowledge of language and conventions

Factors differentiating the performance levels for writing include how consistently and fully students develop ideas, including when drawing evidence from one or more sources, how well they organize their writing, and their command of grammar and language usage.

Performance Level Descriptors by Grade

The PLDs are available by grade level, grade band or as a complete set.

By Grade Band