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What are academic standards?
What's different about academic standards?
What do standards have to do with my classroom?
How have standards developed since they began in the early 1990s?
Another perspective
What are the benefits of academic standards?
How can standards help students to learn better?
What do critics of standards have to say?

What do standards have to do with my classroom?

Standards guide what is taught in your classroom. In the core subjects -- English/language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies -- any classroom activity should be aligned to standards. This applies to every grade, not only the benchmark grades where students are tested for promotion.

Making expectations clear is important, especially for average- to lower-functioning students who may not always take the initiative regarding their work or know how to aim for those goals without any guidance.

Standards make the most difference in which activities you choose for your students. Students need tasks, assignments -- work -- that gets them to the standards, not activities that they find easy. Most students say they prefer work that challenges them -- work that makes them stretch, rather than "slide by" and potentially be bored.

A visitor to a standards-based classroom should see a lot of high-level activity -- questioning, reflecting, analyzing, doing experiments, discussing, writing -- and one important addition: a scoring guide 1 on the wall for any major assignment. This scoring guide will have been written by the teacher and students together and posted before the students begin the assignment. It will set out for the students exactly what work that gains the highest score consists of (6, or 4, or "advanced") and what low-scoring work would be.

1. Scenario


Workshop: Teaching to Academic Standards
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