Office of State Assessment

English Language Arts Performance Level Descriptions

girl in high school Performance Level Descriptions

Performance Level Descriptions (PLDs) describe the range of knowledge and skills students should demonstrate at a given performance level.

How were the PLDs developed?

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) convened the state's Content Advisory Panels (CAPs) to work on the initial drafts of the PLDs. The CAPs are classroom teachers from elementary, middle and high school, school and district administrators, English Language Learner (ELL) and students with disabilities (SWD) specialists, and higher education faculty members from across the state.

The draft PLDs then went through additional rounds of review and revision from a number of NYS‐certified educators, content specialists, and assessment experts under NYSED supervision. In developing PLDs, participants considered policy‐level definitions of the performance levels and the expectations for each grade level in the Common Core Learning Standards.

How are the PLDs used in Assessment?

PLDs are essential in setting standards for the New York State Regents Examinations. Standard setting panelists use PLDs to determine the threshold expectations for students to demonstrate the knowledge and skills necessary to attain just barely a Level 2, Level 3, Level 4, or Level 5 on the assessment. These discussions then influence the panelists in establishing the cut scores on the assessment. PLDs are also used to inform item development, as each test needs questions that distinguish performance all along the continuum.

How can the PLDs be used in Instruction?

PLDs help communicate to students, families, educators and the public the specific knowledge and skills expected of students to demonstrate proficiency and can serve a number of purposes in classroom instruction. They are the foundation of rich discussion around what students need to do to perform at higher levels and to explain the progression of learning within a subject area. We encourage the use of the PLDs for a variety of purposes, such as differentiating instruction to maximize individual student outcomes, creating classroom assessments and rubrics to help in identifying target performance levels for individual or groups of students, and tracking student growth along the proficiency continuum as described by the PLDs. In order to facilitate the use of the PLDs in instruction, the skills differentiating performance levels have been identified using bold text.

Downloadable Resources

Regents ELA Performance Level Descriptions PDF file (237.25 KB)

Last Updated: September 15, 2022