Educational standards define the knowledge and skills students should possess at critical points in their educational career. “Standards serve as a basis of educational reform across the nation as educators and policy makers respond to the call for a clear definition of desired outcomes of schooling and a way to measure student success in terms of these outcomes” (National Research Council 2001). National, state and local educators play an important role in improving student learning through development and implementation of standards throughout the country.
A number of organizations provide general information for those working in research, practice and evaluation of standards-based education. Some sites providing general standards information are linked below:
- American Academy for the Advancement of Science’s Benchmarks Online – Project 2061‘s Benchmarks for Science Literacy is part of a long-term initiative of the American Association for the Advancement of Science to reform K-12 science, mathematics, and technology education nationwide.
- Common Core State Standards are a national initiative to define the skills and knowledge students should have throughout their education at both the primary and secondary levels. Coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers, the Common Core standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and experts, to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare our children for their educational and professional endeavors after high school.
- Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning’s (McREL) resources for standards-based education – McREL collaborates with key organizations and works with schools, districts, and states to improve practices and capitalize on the potential that standards-based education holds for students.
- The Nation’s Report Card – National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) – reports statistical information about student performance and factors related to educational performance for the nation and specific subgroups of the population. It includes students drawn from both public and nonpublic schools and reports results for student achievement at grades 4, 8, and 12.
In response to concerns over the educational achievement of students in the United States, individual states are establishing sets of learning standards defined by grade level or clusters of grades. Curriculum and assessment systems are then organized around these expectations in the core subject areas of English, mathematics, science, and social studies.
The following sites provide resources related to state educational standards for Illinois and its five contiguous states.
The Illinois Learning Standards (ILS) define what students in all Illinois public schools should know and be able to do as a result of their elementary and secondary schooling in the following subjects:
- English Language Arts
- Social Studies
- Physical Development and Health
- Fine Arts
- Foreign Languages
- Social/Emotional Learning (SEL)
Indiana Academic Standards covers the subject areas of English/language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. These subject areas are further subdivided by K-8, high school, teacher’s edition (K-12th) and other standards. Indiana Academic Standards Assessments provide end-of-course tests of what students know and are able to do after taking specific Core 40 courses. They are aligned with Indiana’s Academic Standards adopted by the Indiana State Board of Education.
The Standards and Curriculum from the Iowa Department of Education is divided into three units. The first unit, Competency-Based Pathways, is designed to provide competency-focused routes for Iowa students at all levels of education without the need for a waiver. Iowa Core standards, the second unit, includes the expectations that educators are tasked with aiding students in achieving from kindergarten to the 12th grade. The Iowa Core, which is not a curriculum, delineates standards for math, science, English/language arts, social studies, and technological and financial literacy. The final unit, Iowa’s Multi-Tiered System of Supports, is a decision-making framework that addresses student needs in general education, as well as a mechanism for determining education-system health and adequacy of student support.
Kentucky’s Core Academic Standards, or KCAS, encapsulate the minimum required standards that all Kentucky students should learn before graduating from the state’s high schools.
The Show-Me-Standards, approved in 1996, are a set of standards constructed to assist students in building a foundation of knowledge, skills, and abilities to help them succeed after they graduate from Missouri high schools. The standards are encapsulated in the state’s Knowledge Standards Performance Goals. The Knowledge Standards are the basic skills and facts students are to be exposed to in the disciplines of reading, writing, mathematics, world and American history, government, geography, science, health/physical education, and the fine arts. The Performance Goals are the four primary educational goals around which academic standards should be grouped.
Other State Standards
Achieve State Standards Database is a searchable online collection of academic content standards and benchmarks for K-12 education. Users can subscribe to this tool for a fee to analyze and compare standards from states or countries by subject, grade level, key word or reference category.
Educational standards are often developed by the national organizations supporting those specific disciplines. While nationally mandated standards do not exist, subject-area professional associations have developed national standards in the subject areas listed below:
- Art and Music
- English as a Second Language
- Health Education
- Language Arts
- Physical Education
- Science Education
- Social Studies
Standards assist educators in evaluating accomplished teaching. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) developed a process to determine whether a teacher possesses the attributes of accomplished teaching based on their standards in each of the certificate areas. In addition, many national organizations are working to develop standards to assist educators in improving curriculum, instruction, assessment, educator preparation and professional development. Sites listed below provide resources related to standards development.
- Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation
- Information Literacy Standards for Teacher Education
- Mathematics Teaching Standards
- National Academy of Science’s Teacher Preparation Standards
- National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS)
- National Educational Technology Standards
- Science Teaching Standards
- Standards for Reading Professionals