An Overview
Board, District, School and Classroom Components
Detailed Description
Implementaton of Standards

Many State Education Departments have developed, adopted and provided schools with an extensive curriculum framework that represents their state's educational standards. Such standards usually define student academic expectations and describe elementary, middle and secondary level demonstrators or benchmarks of student performance. State assessment programs have been changed or are rapidly undergoing changes to reflect their state's standards. Such standards or frameworks are intended for use by schools as a guide or blueprint in the development of local content and performance standards. If well designed, these standards reflect both the local curriculum and the state's new framework.

The MES process provides training on how to have local standards based on state standards. The purpose of developing local content and performance standards is to extend a State's general framework to very specific grade or course level content that is to be learned in each curricular area and taught teacher by teacher. Thus, content standards clarify both the state framework and intended curriculum by defining what teachers are expected to teach and what students are expected to learn at each grade, course or level of program difficulty. Likewise, grade, course or program level performance standards describe performance indicators and assessments that are used to determine the degree of student learning that has been achieved. Ideally learning can be demonstrated and correlated to each of the individual content standards.

One of the fundamental purposes of clarifying the state framework and the intended local curriculum at each level of program difficulty, and consequently for each teacher's assigned grade level or course, is to ensure that all students achieve high levels of understanding, in all content areas, at each program level. This is consistent with the correlates of Effective Schools "Clear School Mission" and "High Expectations".

It is assumed by most educational initiatives that schools understand their mission. This may prove to be true in some cases, but it should not be assumed! Given the current national and state emphasis on redefining standards, the question of "clear school mission" and "high expectations" becomes even more critical to school improvement. Due to these factors, the MES process was extended in 1996 to directly address the implementation of state standards.

To borrow from the wisdom of Steven Covey and his findings, we should "begin with the end in mind". The development of content standards provides clear statements about what all students are expected to learn and when they are expected to learn it. Performance standards expand on the "what" by answering the question "how good is good enough?". Districts that have answers to these questions can clarify expectations. Once expectations are understood, everyone can truly "begin with the end in mind", and consequently, will know when the desired end results have been achieved!

Standards Implementation
Standards Committee
Staff Development

A district-wide committee is formed for each content area addressed. Each committee consists of key teachers (representing all grade levels & schools), principals, the district's curriculum expert and other people selected by the district such as parents and other representatives.

All committee members participate in one day of inservice education regarding the effective schools research, standards, implications of standards for school improvement and assignments for collecting standards information from each teacher in each school.

The last portion of this inservice enables members of the standards committee to organize into building level subcommittees and establish a plan for surveying all teachers in their school regarding existing standards.

Subcommittee Work
Map Existing Standards

Based on plans developed during the first day if inservice, the building level subcommittee survey staff to determine existing standards at each grade level or for each course.

The elements of this process are outlined as follows:

  1. Samples of grade /course level standards are distributed for each subject area to teachers. Each teacher reviews samples for the grade(s) or courses they teach plus the grade or course before and after their assigned level. Teachers are asked to confirm the "content" taught that students are expected to "master" by the end of the school year or course (only content mastered is mapped).
  2. Teacher responses are collected by grade or course for standards committee use.
Grade and Course Level Content Standards

The standards committee meets for two days. (Different content committees can meet and work at the same time.) The committee's task is to analyze teachers' responses to the samples, state standards and local curriculum requirements and then draft content standards appropriate for each grade level and course. The standards drafted must be consistent with state standards and assessments and reflect levels of difficulty, as appropriate, to establish the prerequisite knowledge necessary for student success at the next level or grade.

Standards are written in a format that specifies student expectations (or learning outcomes) and associated performance indicators. Performance indicators clearly define the level of difficulty intended that students master.

Committee Approves Standards

Newly drafted grade level content standards (including associated performance indicators) are circulated to staff, parents and the extended community for awareness, review and comment.

The standards committee considers comments from review process, makes necessary modifications and recommends final draft content standards to superintendent.

Approved By

The Superintendent either formally approves the committee's recommendations, or returns them to the committee with questions/concerns for the team to consider.

Once approved, grade level or course standards are distributed to teachers for use in aligning their taught curriculum and expectations with state standards and assessments. Standards written in this format give teachers practical definitions for the correlates "Clear School Mission" and "High Expectations".

Performance Assessment
Trial Implementation

After content standards are approved, two consecutive days of staff development are necessary to train teachers in how to integrate the standards into their lessons and how to develop and use performance assessments. This initial training is focused on developing a thorough understanding of performance assessments, how to develop and use them effectively as part of the day to day instructional program. For example, teachers can develop performance assessments based on use of themes or thematic units, the individual content area, or specific units or courses.

Once trained, staff begin implementing newly developed performance assessments as part of their lessons. Trial implementation is usually continued for the remainder of the school year. (A sufficient trial implementation period is necessary to ensure teachers understand how performance assessments are best incorporated into the instructional process.) Because most teachers have limited, if any, training in developing and using performance assessments, trial implementation is considered as a time for trying things out and for learning what really works in practice.

Implementation At the end of the trial implementation and usually prior to the beginning of the next school year, two additional days of professional development time are necessary for staff to revise, redesign and write additional performance assessments for the next year. These two days enable staff to incorporate what they learned from their earlier experiences into improving the quality of performance assessments.
Ongoing Process

After performance assessment training, teachers continue to develop assessments for each content standard as part of their instructional units or courses. It is important that time be set aside for this purpose on an annual basis. Providing opportunities for teachers to share ideas and performance assessments across school and district boundaries is also a way to continue support for implementation.

The standard setting process can be used, as needed, for revising grade or program level standards.


An Overview
Board, District, School and Classroom Components
Detailed Description
Implementaton of Standards



(Validation Credentials)


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