Standards serve as guidelines for educators (and students involved in personalized learning) to design curriculum and assessments that represent what students need to know and be able to do, as well as develop instructional practices that support the desired learning and applications in authentic contexts.
Unfortunately, teachers are often asked to focus on standards from a compliance perspective, rather than a robust, systemic standards alignment that truly benefits all learners. It is imperative that professional learning provides opportunities to collaboratively study and interpret standards to best design scaffolded learning and instructional plans—both within and across grade levels and courses.
To ensure quality standards-based curriculum, instruction, and assessments, educators need to be:
Attaining professional fluency in how to read and interpret standards is essential for designing quality standards-based learning expectations and instructional practices. The ability to comprehend standards explicitly and inferentially involves an understanding of standards’ textual form and function. (Note: This is not the same as unwrapping or unpacking standards, which is involved in ensuring standards alignment.)
Standards alignment involves three focuses which can be focused on individually or as a standards suite: prioritizing critical standards for student success and engagement; designing systemic learning expectations and/or units of study based on collegial standards interpretation; and accurate alignment of learning and teaching to the standards (and vice versa).
This type of analysis is needed now more than ever, given the growing number of “standards-aligned” lessons, activities, and units of study available via Open Educational Resources (OER) and for-profit companies. While standards alignment may appear to be accurate, the question needs to be asked: Does the resource truly meet our teachers’ collaborative standards interpretation and alignment across and within our grade levels and courses?
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