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English Language Arts Grade Level
Considerations for Grades 3–5
Considerations for Elementary School (Grades 3–5)
Reading Level
Item Difficulty
Assessment Targets
Reading Level
Claim 1 (Reading) and 3 (Speaking and
Listening) passages range from being above,
at, or below grade level
For Claim 2 (Writing) and 4 (Research) the
passages one grade below the assessed grade
Use language that is clear and vocabulary
that is at or below the assessed grade level
Appropriate to elementary school students
Vocabulary measured in context must be
at least two levels above grade
Elementary School Context
– pets
– animals
– age appropriate science
and history
– age appropriate games
and activities
– conflicts with parents
– technical passages about
– jobs or employment
– controversial political
– war or crimes
Item Difficulty
Items should include a range of difficulty
Anticipated difficulty for sample items
Smarter Balanced English Language Arts Claims
and Assessment Targets
Claim 1: Reading
Claim 2: Writing
Claim 3: Speaking & Listening
Claim 4: Research
Elementary School Claim 1: Reading
Students can read closely and analytically
to comprehend a range of increasingly
complex literary and informational texts.
Selected Response, Constructed Response,
and Technology-Enhanced Items
50% Literary texts: stories, poems,
plays/drama, myths, mysteries,
science fiction, historical fiction
50% Informational texts: literary nonfiction,
historical documents, scientific articles,
technical texts
Elementary School Claim 2: Writing
Students can produce effective and well grounded
writing for a range of purposes and audiences.
Selected Response, Constructed Response,
Technology-Enhanced Items and Performance
Elementary school Claim 2 Performance
Tasks include:
– Narrative writing
– Informational/explanatory writing
– Opinion writing
Elementary School Claim 3: Speaking & Listening
Students can employ effective speaking
and listening skills for a range of
purposes and audiences.
Elementary school Performance Tasks
– Oral presentations based on research
Locally administered formative and interim
Elementary School Claim 4: Research
Students can engage in research / inquiry
to investigate topics, and to analyze,
integrate, and present information.
Selected Response and Constructed Response
Performance Tasks
Real world sources
Multiple sources
Elementary School English Language Arts
Grade Level Considerations
Vocabulary, style, context, and item difficulty
Claims and assessment targets from the
Smarter Balanced English Language Arts
Content Specifications
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