Commission on Student Learning
Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALR)

Raising Standards

Washington's Innovative Program to Improve Public Education

Children are growing up in a world that has changed dramatically since the days of our own youth. Technology and other forces are rapidly transforming the ways we live and work. The forces of change are also re-shaping what it means to have the knowledge and skills necessary to ead a successful life now and in the 21st Century.

Although it may sometimes seem that change is the only constant in the modem world, education must still begin by building a foundation of basic skills in reading. writing, communication and mathematics. The first job of schools is to ensure students more fully master these basic skills as the tools to success in later learning, life and work. Neither business-as-usual in the schools, nor turning back the clock to a bygone era, will make all our students achieve at higher levels.


Expect more ... get more


If students know that we expect more from them, we will get more from them. When our expectations are low, we deny our children something priceless - the opportunity and encouragement to reach their full potential. As soon as we deliver a clear message that higher, more rigorous academic standards are being set, students will rise to the challenge.

'To furnish the means of acquiring knowledge is the greatest benefit that can be conferred upon mankind " John Quincy Adams (on the founding of the Smithsonian Institution, 1846)


Washington State Learning Goals

The Commission on Student Learning is working to raise academic standards for all students in Washington. those standards focus on achievement of four state learning goals.

GOAL 1 Read with comprehension, write with skill, and communicate effectively and responsibly in a variety of ways and settings

GOAL 2 Know and apply the core concepts and principles of mathematics; social, physical, and life sciences; civics and history; geography; arts; and health and fitness;

GOAL 3 Think analytically, logically, and creatively, and to integrate experience and knowledge to form reasoned judgments and solve problems; and

GOAL 4 Understand the importance of work and how performance, effort, and decisions directly affect ca career and educational opportunities.


The basics, plus

The Commission adopted higher standards for reading, writing, communication and mathematics in 1995. In April of 1996, science, social studies (history, civics, geography, and economics), arts, and health and fitness were adopted. These are the subject areas the Washington State Legislature directed the Commission to cover in designing higher academic standards.

In addition, two of the state learning goals focus on thinking and problem-solving skills generally, and on the importance of work. The skills in these two goals have been integrated into the academic standards for reading, writing, communication, mathematics, science, social studies, arts, and health and fitness.

Taken together, the 'Essential Academic Learning Requirements' in the four goal areas form a common core of subjects and skills that all students in Washington will be expected to master. This marks the first time all students in the state will be expected to reach the same standards.

Students must also develop the ability to be independent thinkers who can solve real-life problems and keep up with the latest developments. And students must see the connection between their studies and their world.

Memorizing facts will always be important. But in today's world, students need more to succeed. Schools must now more actively help students understand the meaning of facts. Students need to be able to see patterns and relationships between facts and ideas, and to use facts as tools for understanding and organizing concepts and principles.

These Essential Academic Learning Requirements were designed to be clear learning targets for students and teachers. The academic requirements detailed in this document represent the specific academic skills and knowledge students will be required to master and demonstrate in the classroom.




Update and elevate the standards of academic achievement and improve student performance in Washington state to prepare our young people for living, learning, and working successfully in the 21st Century.

The Commission on Student Learning is an 11-member state body appointed by the Governor and the State Board of Education it was directed by the Legislature to carry out the primary goals of the state's educational reform act passed in 1993. This legislation is now in state statute as RCW 28A.630.885.

By the spring of 1997, the Commission intends to have the reading, writing, communication and mathematics standards and the fourth grade assessments available for school districts to implement on a voluntary basis. At that time, seventh and tenth grade assessments for these subjects will be pilot tested. The law calls for full implementation by the year 2000.

It is the intent of the Commission to help lead the way in the development of a more successful, relevant public school system for Washington. But meaningful reform will happen only if all citizens concerned about public education care enough to be involved with us every step of the way.


The public -- a vital partner

The public is a vital and valued partner in all the Commission's work. That principle has been at the heart of the process by which these academic standards were written. The standards are the result of the collaborative efforts of hundreds of Washington educators, parents, business leaders, and citizens from communities in every corner of the state.

The committees that took the lead in writing the standards are made up of parents, community members, business people, high school students and educators. Their draft statements have been revised based on comments from hundreds of school district teams from around the state and over 40 grassroots community, business, and advocacy organizations, as well as content expert review teams.

The comments of citizens who participated in any of the community forums or who used other channels to offer comments and suggestions, have also led to many changes in earlier drafts. The input from the public has been tremendously valuable and is greatly appreciated.

In view of how broadly and how deeply the public has left its mark on the Commission's work, it's fair to say that the academic standards outlined in this document truly are for the public and by the public. The Commission welcomes continued feedback on these academic standards and will revise the standards in the future as needed. Please forward to us any comments or suggestions you may have for improving this product. You may use the citizen response form, at the end of this document, or you can find us at:

Commission on Student Learning
Old Capitol Building, Room 222
P.O Box 47220 Olympia, WA 98504-7220
(360) 664-3155