Accurate Alignment to Standards
Educators often struggle with developing units of study with quality standards alignment. Sometimes they:
- Inadvertently put “the cart before the horse” by aligning a developed unit of study to the standards they think “best fit,” which leads to too many standards being selected.
- Develop a unit of study with thoughtfully pre-selected standards, yet results in small or large misalignments based on standards’ expectations and the unit’s learning requisites.
There is an art to designing standards-based curriculum, assessments, and instruction.
First, it is important to have standards literacy to ensure better interpretation of standards expectations.
Second, it is equally important that the standards-based learning expectations in a unit of study are clearly stated, explicitly taught with current students in mind, and authentically assessed.
Third, depending on short- and long-range curriculum, instruction, and assessment goals, it may be beneficial to prioritize standards and aligned skills to aid in instructional and assessment choices.
Bullseye Prioritizing Standards
Larry Ainsworth’s description in Power Standards (p.13), “What is necessary is to make the distinction—which standards are critical for student success, and which other ones can be given less emphasis,” is the key concept used when bullseye prioritizing standards.
Through a step-by-step process, Janet works alongside teachers to aid them in systemically determining critical, need to know, and still need to know standards that, once prioritized, affect designing curriculum, assessments, and instructional practices.
Based on a pre-determined question, such as: What do our students need to reach independency and be prepared for their college or career readiness?, those involved in the prioritizing process use up to five lenses to rate each standard, as well as using a seven-step review process to move through a series of collaborative decision-making cycles to finalize bullseye standards percentages. Teachers then work on creating new or revising existing grade-level or course-specific units of study and assessments based on their prioritized results.
Systemic Standards Learning Progressions - Standards Fluency
Parents and community leaders are often surprised when they discover that teachers do not know (nor are involved in developing) systemic standards-based learning progression expectations, oftentimes referred to as standards fluency. All too often teachers are asked to focus on their grade-level or course-specific standards without discussing and determining a progression of learning with their colleagues from kindergarten through high school (or for the grade-level or course range a school, district, or higher-ed program serves).
This can prove detrimental for student learning over time, and often causes teachers (and students) to work harder due to not knowing or being aware of the standards’ nuances across grade levels. The key to robust and rigorous curriculum design is collaboratively constructing scaffolded skills or competencies across all grade levels that lead to better creation of curriculum and assessments, as well as the creation or selection of instructional practices and resources.
While bringing together educators for this type of collaborative standards work is not always easy given scheduling, it is always empowering for those involved in the process. Depending on the standards progressions goals, and given timeline for the collaborative work, outcomes may include progressions that convey broader competencies, detailed skills, benchmark performance tasks, and/or tier two or tier three vocabulary.
To contact Janet about your learning organization’s standards alignment needs,
please call her at 520.241.8797, or email her using this contact form.
If you prefer, complete a Standards Needs Survey.
Janet will respond within 24 hours.