How MLC Prepares Students for the NJSLA

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How MLC Prepares Students for the NJSLA

With your child in middle school, you are probably aware of the state mandated tests that happen around March every year. But what is the test? And how does the test impact your child?

School curriculum is based on a set of standards called the New Jersey Student Learning Standards (NJSLS). These standards are a set of objectives that dictate school curriculum and outline what skills students should have mastered by the end of the school year.

The test given to assess skill mastery is called the New Jersey Student Learning Assessment (NJSLA).

The NJSLA assesses critical thinking skills and students’ ability to read, write, speak, listen, and solve real problems independently. This test is aligned with the NJSLS and is intended to mark students’ progress towards the goal of college and career readiness. The assessments are also meant to provide feedback to the district regarding the efficacy of the state’s current curriculum and instruction.

To see exactly which standards your child is working toward mastering, please use the links below. Standards build on the previous grade.


MEK has always strived to keep our curriculum relevant and up-to-date with the latest educational standards. The current MEK Learning Circles Math and English curricula were designed with the Common Core State Standards and  New Jersey Student Learning Standards in mind. We are always working to keep up-to-date with adjustments to state standards!


With the exception of high school level classes, such as MLC Algebra 1 and MLC Advanced Algebra, each grade level of MLC Math is divided into two courses: Operations and Number Sense (ONS) and Problem-Solving Math (PSM).

The ONS classes for each grade level focus on calculation-based skills, such as efficient set up, accurate calculation, and number sense. The PSM classes feature more word problems and hone students’ abilities to recognize keywords, determine appropriate calculation strategies. They also use logical reasoning to solve complex problems. Together, the ONS and PSM classes for a single grade level cover all of the Common Core standards for that grade level. For example, the MLC Pre-Algebra 1 ONS and PSM classes correspond to Grade 7 Math Standards, and MLC Pre-Algebra 2 ONS and PSM classes correspond with Grade 8 Math Standards.

The Algebra 1 and Advanced Algebra classes align with ninth-grade topics and techniques. However, in some school districts, advanced and honors students may find themselves learning Pre-Algebra 1 and Pre-Algebra 2 topics simultaneously in seventh grade, and beginning eighth grade with Algebra 1 topics. Advanced students at MEK may find themselves taking MLC Algebra 1 in eighth grade (or even earlier!).

Click here to get an in-depth look at how MLC Math helps students master the Common Core Standards for Math. 


Like the Math classes, MLC English classes at each grade level are divided into two courses: Critical Reading classes and Writing.

Critical Reading classes focus on the standards outlined in the NJSLS’ Reading strand–reading comprehension skills, such as:

  • Determining a text’s central themes
  • Assessing point of view and narration
  • Evaluating the reasoning behind claims in a text


Writing classes focus on the standards outlined in the NJSLS’s Writing strand–writing skills such as:

  • Constructing arguments with valid reasoning and relevant evidence
  • Producing written work that is clear and comprehensible
  • Using revision and other techniques to strengthen writing


There is some crossover between the classes. Critical Reading students write essays to defend their interpretations. Writing students will read articles and stories on which they can base their essays. The combination of the Writing and Critical Reading courses thoroughly covers the Reading and Writing Strands of the NJSLS.

All of the MLC English classes also build on the standards outlined in the NJSLS’ Language strand. Students learn to use grade-appropriate grammar and spelling rules when speaking and writing, to understand figurative language in context, and to use context clues and outside references to learn the meaning of unfamiliar words and phrases.

Speaking and Listening Objectives

Students in all classes also practice the skills outlined in the Speaking and Listening Strand. MLC English classes include informal class discussions. Teachers and students review reading assignments and compare writing samples on certain topics. However, due to the structure of MLC classes, the Speaking and Listening standards have less focus than standards for Reading, Writing, and Language.

Instead, the Speaking and Listening standards are given particular focus in the Non-Fiction Reading courses. These are offered at MEK in the Summer semesters. Students who show fluent writing skills but struggle with conveying and understanding ideas and information through the spoken word should seriously consider taking Non-Fiction Reading. The course will boost their comprehension and presentation skills. Non-Fiction Reading also takes a deep dive into technical writing and research.

Click here to get an in-depth look at how MLC Critical Reading helps students master the Common Core State Standards for Reading.

Click here to get an in-depth look at how MLC Writing helps students master the Common Core State Standards for Writing.

High School Admissions and NJSLA

Students applying to top magnet and private high schools must submit their NJSLA scores as part of their admissions package. Therefore, lower scores on the NJSLA may have a negative impact on admissions.

See Where Your Child Stands on Core Subject Areas

MEK offers our free MEK Learning Circles Evaluation Test. The test your child’s current mastery of grade level skills in the core subject areas of Math and English.

Our Evaluation Test is aligned with the Common Core State Standards. You get true insight into how your child is performing on course objectives.

Every child who takes an MLC Evaluation Test receives a score report. The report breaks down their strengths and weaknesses and gives them recommendations for how to improve.

To learn more about the MEK Learning Circles Evaluation Test click here!

Next Steps

MEK’s expert instructors are excited to work with your child to build the academic skills that yield amazing results in the classroom and create a lifelong love of learning.

Interested in our MEK Learning Circles program?

Take the first step in the MLC registration process by signing up for our free, virtual MEK Learning Circles Evaluation Test. Our MLC Evaluation Test is taken from the comfort of your home computer through our Canvas platform at no cost to you! You’ll also receive our signature score report via email that details your child’s academic standing in core subject areas of English and Math and a free consultation for course recommendations and next steps with our MLC Program Director, Ms. Binal Patel.

MEK wants to make our amazing results your amazing results. Contact us today to get started!

Binal Patel

Binal is the Director of the MEK Learning Circles. Her many years of experience with students of all levels and extensive knowledge of Common Core State Standards makes her a powerful MLC leader. Her firm but patient manner yields high results among her students and helps her to reinforce the integrity of our MLC program among other teachers.


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