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Beyond the Standard Standards

     Since I became a professional educator in 1990, there has been a focus on what we teach.  Sometime it has been a focus on what students should learn.  Either way, there has been an on-going discussion on what our students should be doing while at school and what will prepare them for their futures.

      Naturally, this seems like a reasonable idea.  However, there is not agreement here.  For years, it was about subject content and competencies.  In California, we had the Frameworks that were supposed to be guides as to what to teacher at every grade level in every subject area.

      Then, we had the State Standards that took the content goals to the next level.  We now had tests on content in all core subjects at each grade level.  Students were expected to “know” certain things and demonstrate that on the multiple-choice tests.
     In high school specifically, we’ve also had our requirements.  For example, there is A-G that the colleges and universities to determine which courses and their completion are necessary for post-secondary success or admission.

     Then, because of accreditation and entities like WASC, we’ve had things like ESLRs (Expected School wide Learning Results).

      Again, to some degree, we’ve continued to wrestle with what we’re supposed to teach and what students are supposed to learn.  Based on the changing nature of the world in every facet – economically, socially, financially, technologically, etc. – it seems logical as well that our learning goals – or standards – would change and evolve too.

    In recent years, we have seen things like the Partnerships for 21st Century skills (  This has been an effort to acknowledge that the world is changing and that there needs to be an educational focus on things like the Four C’s (Collaboration, Communication, Creativity and Critical Thinking), as we as Information & Media Literacy, Life & Career Skills and more.

Image result for four c's

      And now, we also have the Common Core Stand Standards.  This seems to be an effort to get away from knowing content to rather performing or doing something with content.  There is a greater focus on critical thinking, analysis, problem solving and process vs. just the answer.  That may be oversimplified, but we need to summarize where we’ve been and where we’re going.  And Naturally, this will affect not only the curriculum & instruction, but the assessments and a whole lot more.

      Again, it seems logical that our standards would evolve.  It also seems reasonable that our educators, students and others would like a road map or plan.  And maybe it’s ok that we’re not in agreement.  Maybe in the world of choice, learners can choose which set of standards they would like to pursue and be held accountable for………probably too crazy right?

      However, in my estimation, I would like to see the high school standards become more specific and go to the next level to say the least.  Maybe reflection of standards should be a standard.  Regardless, here are some specific standards, or learning goals, that I’d like to see all high school students have:

·      All students will have an Individual Learning Plan or Individual Passion Plan where they get to choose area of interest to learn and study in both core and elective courses.
·      All students will have access to one-to-one digital technology for all classes in high school
·      All students will have a digital portfolio and professional website that has to be publicly shared, as well as presented to with peers, teachers and community members at least once per year.
·      All students will receive annual instruction on professional social media use and use social media as part of their professional and academic work.
·      All students will learn financial literacy in every math course they take.
·      All students will have STEM/STEAM opportunities and activities in their math classes.
·      All English classes will teach, model and require digital publishing.
·      All students will have at least one formal on campus staff mentor.
·      All students will have at least one formal off campus professional mentor.
·      All students will complete quarterly surveys of their instruction and curriculum for continual improvement purposes



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