Standards and Benchmarks are Crap

dung bettle
 

You know when you’ve been thinking something for awhile but it’s not very popular so you never say anything…..and then there’s a conversation that gets you going and before you know it…things just come out?

OK….so maybe this doesn’t happen to you…but it does to me….often actually. Think before I speak is something I obviously need to work on.

Today while kicking off another CoETaIL Cohort here at the #ETC11 conference this came rolling out of my mouth…and of course was tweeted right away.


what are the essentials of learning? @jutecht might have said something like “standards and benchmarks are crap!” too funny! #etc11less than a minute ago via TweetDeck


“standards & benchmarks are 20th century crap!” quote from @jutecht #etc11 #coetailless than a minute ago via TweetDeck

Yes….I’ve been thinking this for awhile. I’ve been having an issue with standards and benchmarks (S&B) for years. Specifically how they apply to technology in schools. Read here, here and here.

School has changed, we used to learn “just in case” now we need to be teaching “just in time”. (OK…schools haven’t changed but they should)

The way schools are applying S&Bs is frustrating me…especially in the American system where we’re getting to the point in many schools where everyone is on the same page at the same time learning the same standard. Forget if kids actually master the concept because we need to move on to the next standard.

S&Bs are 20th century thinking that we’re still trying to apply to a 21st Century world. A world were essential habits and attitudes of learning are what we need to be focused on. Where meta-congnitive skills and the ability to think about our own thinking will serve our students better than learning their times tables (I have access to 4 calculators within hands reach as I type).

So the conversation then is what is learning about? And as the tweet above states: What are the essentials of learning?

My current school I think is on the right track. What I would love to do is throw out all the S&Bs and tie everything we teach to our definition of learning. Your school has defined what learning is right? Here’s ISB’s Definition of Learning:

Learning is the primary focus of our school and we recognize learning as a life-long adventure. We value meaningful learning where students construct enduring understanding by developing and applying knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Increased understanding is evidenced by students who:

  • Explain its relevance
  • Describe how it connects to or conflicts with prior learning
  • Communicate it effectively to others
  • Generalize and apply it effectively to new situations
  • Reflect critically on their own and other’s learning
  • Ask questions to extend learning
  • Create meaningful solutions

So the question is: What’s the “stuff” that we teach?

What if it was “stuff” students were passtionate about?

What if we gave students full autonomy, purpose, and the ability to master things?

What if school was not about content but about skills and attitudes?

What if students were “judged” on these 7 definitions of what it means to learn?

Yes….I know this idea has holes

Yes…it’s not perfect

Yes…I know you’re going to leave passionate comments (at least you’re passionate)

No…it’s never going to happen (schools have invested to much time in creating S&Bs)

Yes….I think S&Bs are 20th Century Crap that we’re trying to fit into a new world where content no longer rules. S&Bs have been disrupted by technology but we won’t can’t let them go because we fear the unknown.

There…I said it….what a weight off my shoulders.  

33 Comments

  1. I’ve just come to a S&B American school (in Muscat, Oman) from an IB school in Arusha, Tanzania. It’s a pretty huge shift in gears, I find, to move from one to the other. I feel much the same way that you do, although, like you say, it’s never perfect. S&Bs do end up dragging bewildered kids along the curriculum, confused because they’re still looking for relevance and meaning from something that they saw days ago. Parents love S&B, though. They are perfect for the “how is he doing compared to the others?” crowd. It takes some careful and passionate parent education to help them buy in.

    • S&B still seem to be central at my IB school. I’ve never liked them but just assumed (naively, I know) that others knew what they were talking about!

      Thanks, Jeff, for giving voice to my skepticism.

      Eileen

  2. Fantastic! Seems that you’re saying that “how” we learn IS the “stuff,” rather than the “what.” (Okay, that sounded better in my head.)

    I’ll try again. We need to make our most important standards learning dispositions, rather than rote knowledge.

    Which excites you more:

    “The student will show how class inequities, combined with advances in technology, led to the industrial revolution.”

    OR:

    “The student shows flexibility in thinking and resilience in spirit when presented with unfamiliar problems.”

    Why do we love the second, yet accept that it doesn’t exist in any of our schools (if I’m wrong, please send me a copy of your school’s S&B’s!)? Why? Because it’s not the “stuff” we teach! It’s seen, at best, as a sideline to the actual “stuff.”

    What classes do we teach in High School? Biology, French, English, Band, Algebra…that’s our “stuff.” Where in this list do we see “Creative Problem Solving” and “Divergent Thinking?”

    It’s not that no one has recognized the importance of these skills! Every politician in the last 20 years has hailed them as the New Way Forward: The Way For Americans To Beat China And Singapore In Math And Science. The problem is, with hundreds of S&B’s that continue to accumulate like snowflakes in winter, Math and Science teachers are too busy rushing through their binders of benchmarks to slow down and take the creative approaches necessary to have kids think in interesting ways!

    The scenery blurs by outside the window as we drive faster and faster to our destination, while the radio sings a song of the joys of stopping to smell the flowers!

    Unfortunately, we’ll just arrive at the end to see…we covered a lot of ground, but missed something important along the way.

    It’s time to cut back our standards and benchmarks to free up teachers to teach in creative ways. It’s time to cut out some topics to insert projects that allow for divergent thinking. The time is now to redouble our efforts towards what we say is important, and reduce our efforts to what we can let drift by the wayside.

    We need a number. Shall we shoot for 30% reduction of Standards and Benchmarks in the next five years? Start your grass-root campaigns now.

    • Thanks for this….great stuff! Glad I’m not alone…we do need to start somewhere…30% sounds good to me!

      • You’re definitely not alone! I thought you were describing me in your first paragraph … how can we bring the S&B’s down? Ha.

  3. I enjoyed reading your article and I agree with many of the points you made. The seven definitions of learning are a great guide… for a student that has learned the basic skills of learning (reading, writing, math, etc.). I’m not sure what ages/grades you are referring to in your post and I want to make sure that I’m on the same page as you. For example: Definition #1 “Explain it’s relevance.” That’s a very important goal for a student that is developing logical thinking (usually around 4th or 5th) grade. But not something that I want to focus on with a young elementary student. Sometime it happens, they make connections, but I don’t define their learning by that standard.

    I do disagree with your diminishing the importance of rote memorization (your mention of times tables). An adult that can rattle off memorized information is not educated in my opinion, nor is a student that tests well but can’t express themselves and that lack passion… that I agree with. It’s more important to be able to form and express an original opinion than it is to regurgitate information. But there is an order to be found in teaching these two skills. One should not be taught in place of the other. Memorization is a joy for a young elementary child. That’s the time to drill addition facts, times tables, spelling and grammar rules, history dates, etc. This allows them to focus more on their content and opinions in later years without the lack of basic skills holding them back or slowing them down.

    Great article! It gave me a lot to think about. Thanks for sharing.

    • Agreed that early childhood and primary grades need to focus on the “basics” but what are the basics in the 21st Century?

      Do we teach kids to write when they come to school already knowing how to type and typing will be a better skill then writing?

      Do we teach them how to search instead of checking out a book?

      You make some great points…what are the things we should have students memorized? Keys on a keypad?

      You’ve got me thinking….which is always a good thing! :)

      • I think the “basics” of the 20th century are still relevant today. Children still need to learn how to read. They still need to learn how to put a grammatically correct sentence together. They still need to compute math facts in their head. In defense of holding a pen and writing a letter, how much more joy do you feel in receiving a hand written note versus a typed out letter? Maybe I’m just old fashioned. LOL I also witnessed two older teenage girls trying to figure out the price of an item on sale. One girl asked the other, “What is 21 minus 13?”. Her friend could not answer the problem and had to pull out her phone’s calculator. To me, that’s just sad. They spend a full minute trying to figure out the price of that item when it should have only taken seconds.

        Memorization needs to happen in the early elementary years. As I wrote in my last comment, it’s something they actually enjoy at that age. After a child lays a foundation of facts in various subjects then he can begin to build on that and see the relevance of those facts towards him and those around him. I think at that point technology begins to play a greater and more important role in his education. I do not see the importance of a young child (under age 10 or so) spending much time on a computer. Feel free to correct my way of thinking. :-) I’m definitely open to learning more on this topic!

        I do see shift towards teaching a student to search and analyze information on the web rather than a book. Books just can’t keep up with our fast paced, ever-changing world. But I think that before a child can analyze they still need that foundation of basic facts of knowledge in order to have something to build upon.

        • Hi Rachel,

          Good points indeed.

          - Much like you I do not believe kids under the age of 10 or so should spend as much time on the computer playing. I do think they should spend a lot of time exploring, building, imagining, pretending.

          - Basics of Reading, Writing, and Math would still be there…but who says we need to learn them in a particular order? A great case in point would be the two teenage girls you witnesses. I have no doubt they were taught to subtract 21 minus 13 in their school. I have no doubt their teacher did a good job of teaching them how to subtract. The question is then why…when standing there in that store could they not do it? How did they know they needed to subtract? The teaching needs to be in context and needs to be tied to real world authentic learning…otherwise we don’t take the time to memorize it. I have no doubt that if the girls really wanted to they probably could have subtracted 21 minus 13…but it would have taken them longer to do it in their heads then to pull out their phone and figure it out. Some might call that lazy…others resourceful.

          - I believe the foundation needs to be laid in wonderment, curiosity, and play. We had a great discussion yesterday at the CoETaIL kick off on why every kid today needs to read Tom Sawyer at the same time in the same grade? Why can’t we wait until that book makes sense for that student on their own lives and context and then have them read the book? Or what if one kid or even 4 kids don’t read Tom Sawyer? Do we all need to have the same experiences in school?

          These are just some of the questions we were discussing deeply yesterday here at the ETC conference. Great questions coming from great teachers all struggling with a system them feel is stifling their creativity.

          Good Stuff!

  4. Hi Jeff,
    For the most part I completely agree with you. I think the primary lens for instruction should be a shift of focus onto the thinking, creating, collaborating, etc. skills that are the skills that help us to learn, communicate, produce, etc.

    I recently was reflecting on this issue as well (Blog post: Content Standards – Build 2 (Beta) link to llcurious.wordpress.com. At first, I thought we should wholesale ditch the content standards and have a more free form curriculum where students can explore what they are interested in, but I came back to believing content standards are important for three reasons:
    1. You can’t develop a BS detector without knowledge. If you don’t know why you should accept information as fact (i.e. you don’t know the evidence), then you can easily be duped by people.
    2. There is some content that people believe should be “common knowledge.” For news stories to report, for people to communicate, there has to be some knowledge that we can assume just about everyone knows. We need a common language – i.e. those things that should be “common knowledge.”
    3. Exposure to different content areas provides students with contact to fields they may love but never knew they loved.

    That being said, I don’t think content standards should drive instruction. I agree that central habits and skills that are of continued and enduring value are what should be our primary focus. Wouldn’t it be great if every year we could measure progress in students’ abilities to do speak in public settings, to communicate clearly in writing, to find information when they need it, to analyze sources for bias rather than focusing each year on discrete facts that won’t have the same kind of enduring and consistent value?

    Great post! Thank you.

  5. Great reading all of these views!

    Can standards and benchmarks be about skills, attitudes, habits? I think so…..

  6. Jeff, I feel compelled to jump in here, as there seems to be a lot of misunderstanding about what it means to have and use standards in teaching and learning.

    The concept of having/using standards and benchmarks is not the problem here. The problem is that the standards and benchmarks you are referring to are the wrong standards: they aren’t challenging learners to be creative problem-solvers. If the standards you’re using are requiring “everyone to be on the same page at the same time learning the same standard” and now allow “kids [to] actually master the concept because we need to move on to the next standard,” then the solution is simple: write new standards!

    Standards can give students “autonomy, purpose, and the ability to master things.” Standards can be “not about content but about skills and attitudes.” Standards can be about helping students know and understand what it means to learn. In fact, I’d argue they SHOULD be these things! I’d even go a step further and argue that if you think standards are NOT these things you’ve been very misguided. Standards ≠ prescriptive teaching and learning. The most progressive educational systems in the world all have standards, and none of them are prescriptive. (Curriculum documents from Finland, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, and NZ — the countries with top reading & writing literacy — all have standards.)

    Approaching the concept of standards with an alarmist title does little to transform and guide educators to what standards should be; rather the message seems to be, “who cares what our students learn!” which has very serious implications for literacy and other fluencies, particularly at the elementary levels.

    • Thanks for jumping in Adrienne…it’s always good to have a voice of reason.

      I do get where you are coming from and what you write is spot on…but it’s not the day to day lives of many schools…and in fact I would say that many schools are going in the exact oposite direction then what you describe. Standards can be good…but there not.

      We’ve been writing standards now for 10+ years and there are still misunderstanding about what they mean…..which to me says the system doesn’t work. 10+ years and the educational system still can’t agree on standards and benchmarks, and learning goals, and learning standards, and, and, and. We keep rewriting them, we keep updating them but nothing is changing and they are becoming more and more restrictive. Not that they have to…but for the most part they are.

      Agree….my title is alarmist…and it is what I said in the heat of the moment…..and part of me is just tired. I’ve been creating, revising, editing standars every year I’ve been teaching and I’m tired of the paperwork, I’m tired of the hours spent working on standards that are not aligned with what you write and I believe. I do care what our kids learn….yet none of that seems to be making it into S&Bs….not on a large scale anyway.

      Thanks for the push back….I need it!

      • So if I follow your argument properly here… what you’re saying is the educational system can’t agree on what standards and benchmarks are, and they are becoming more restrictive… and so that means that we should just abandon them?

        I don’t know about you, but I never want to work in a school where the faculty has agreed that it doesn’t matter what students learn. I want to be on the side of things that is creating the change, and I don’t think that throwing away the concept of having standards is the best way to create that change. Instead, I want to change the standards. Perhaps this just means we’re philosophically opposed to one another..?

        I definitely feel your sentiment about how tiresome it is to keep creating year after year and not seeing the real change — but to me this simply indicates that we need to change the way we’re doing it. :)

        I think we can start by agreeing not to work in places that have restrictive standards; you and I are lucky in this respect because we work in international schools where we do have choices like that. We’re also lucky in that we work in some of the most progressive schools out there, where those kinds of changes are often easier to make than they are in systems back “home” where it’s the responsibility of the state/provincial/federal gov’t to create those standards.

        At any rate, I want to be involved in creating those standards, and doing good work in schools that “get it” when it comes to setting learning goals for students. It’s one of the reasons I’ve made a conscious choice to work in IB schools running all 3 programmes. However, I do think it’s very possible for any school / system to move towards this; I haven’t given up hope yet! :)

  7. S&Bs are 20th century thinking that we’re still trying to apply to a 21st Century world. A world were [sic] essential habits and attitudes of learning are what we need to be focused on.

    I don’t think standards and benchmarks are the bad guy(s) here. In fact, I think they are extremely useful in providing coherence. The issue is how we use those standards and benchmarks. If they are used as the starting and ending point for planning, as a checklist of things to be covered, and as a shield that schools use to keep from actually thinking too deeply about their ‘definition of learning’, then I agree with Jeff that we are not preparing out students for our current world.

    But if we start with those essential skills and attitudes (the IB Learner Profile?) and with meaningful experiences that resonate with our students and our community – and use the standards and benchmarks as a guide to ensure that we have delivered a well-rounded and thought-out learning experience – then I think we are going a long way in preparing every student to be successful in school and beyond.

    • Yes…I would agree….if we used standards in this way. Help me find schools or even districts that view their S&Bs in this way. What I’m finding and hearing from many educators is the opposite. That S&Bs in this new test crazy environment we now find ourselves are becoming the be all and end of of education. Stifling creativity in the classroom…both of teachers and by students.

      I think part of my frustration is jus the amount of S&Bs we have. Also…what did we have before S&Bs? How did education work?

      • I understand your frustration. I think every school goes through the motions of filling things out and ticking things off a list, expending a lot of time but not always a lot of energy to just ‘get them done.’ There is no buy-in or passion or excitement about the process or the possibilities.

        The needs of learners have changed and the paradigm of education needs to change with them. Unfortunately, for too many, Education is dictating the learning instead of the other way around. This is evident in those high-stakes tests that you mention. The ‘shift’ that so many in the edu-techno-blogosphere have written about over and over again is exactly what we are talking about here: a shift in the relationship between learning, schools and Education. Curriculum and standards aren’t as sexy as social media and Web 2.0, though. If we want to shift our schools, we need to shift our leadership. And maybe, just maybe, we need to be the change we want to see in Education.

  8. I have to agree with much of what has been said already. I feel the real problem lies in content-focused, rather than skill-focused standards.
    It’s not the body of knowledge that is important in the 21st Century, but the skills to find and sort the knowledge which is already out there.
    I see the contrast in my school illustrated by the difference b/w our US History standards and those of our Cambridge IGCSE History class. The US History ones focus on the massive amount of content in our textbook (Holt’s American Nation), while the IGCSE ones are somewhat more skill-focused.
    An example from US History – ‘SWBAT Identify and analyze the key events and results of the American Revolution.’ This standard could very easily lead to direct instruction and students basically memorizing the events of the American Revolution.
    From IGCSE History – ‘Students will debate to what extent Hitler’s foreign policy was to blame for the outbreak of war in 1939′ This standard is not so much about the content (Hitler’s foreign policy) as it is about evaluating differing points-of-view regarding whose fault it was. It entails reading or looking at various sources (cartoons, quotes, photograph, etc) and learning how to interpret and asses them.
    Echoing Adrienne, I would say S & B’s should be about skills and attitudes and not content.

    • Thanks for the examples and I totally agree. So maybe this is a U.S. thing I’m struggling with….and if the IB Standards are more like this why do teachers always complain they have to get through or cover so much information?

      • I think it is a U.S. thing, Jeff. Evan makes a great point in comparing the two types. I’m seeing a lot of this now with my work in schools in NYC… you don’t wanna see the NY State standards — they would make you cry! But I’ll save that for a different day…

        The IB standards… well they are different at diploma level than MYP or PYP. In terms of diploma, which I think is what you are talking about — the reason why teachers complain they have to get through so much is because (IMO) they are not structuring their syllabus appropriately… However, having said that, the DP History and Sciences (Biology, Chem, Physics, Env Systems, etc.) do have a LOT of content and it’s rather ridiculous, really. Those are Group subjects I would definitely argue need to be revamped in terms of IB standards. The good thing, however, is that the IB is listening and they are currently changing the structure of many of the DP-level courses… so all we can do is be patient at this point and see what’s next. :)

  9. Dear Jeff, I really value Adrienne’s comments about the misperceptions that exist when it comes to what standards and benchmarks are and how they can be used effectively by schools.

    And to be honest, we are probably all coming at this without a common understanding of what a standard is, which makes the discussion more complicated.

    I do believe that content standards can be valuable for a school, but I also believe that schools should consider developing ‘learning standards’ – we say that we are teaching students to learn, but are we? Without developing some way of identifying what that looks like how will we ever know that we are there?

    Learning standards should identify what your expectations are as a school when it comes to innovation, creativity, inquiry, relationships – this gives your school a sense of common vision and purpose and helps you to identify if you are achieving your goals in regards to student learning. It is too easy to talk about helping students to be innovative and creative – we need to be able at the same time to talk about/explore what that looks like and how we do it.

    Thanks for the discussion!

    • And to be honest, we are probably all coming at this without a common understanding of what a standard is, which makes the discussion more complicated.

      And I think this is a HUGE part of the problem and is part of the reason I think standards are broken. After 10+ years of having standards in education we still don’t have a common understand of what they are. Not school wide, district wide, or even nation wide. I can’t help but think that S&Bs…the foundation for our current system should be so complicated.

      Could a school run on Learning Standards (to use your words) along? I wonder…..

  10. Jeff et al.

    Great comments, great discussion and I totally understand the overwhelming nature of some Standards and Benchmarks, but believe it or not, some are getting better. In particular I am thinking about the American Library Association’s new S & B’s which really are 21st C. Skill S and B that talk about collaboration, critical thinking, etc. More and more of them are skill based and in fact some teachers do find it frustrating in the reverse not to be told what to teach (though not a problem for me, it is an issue for some who are looking for guidance and coherence in a program).

    As someone who does curriculum work and has been overwhelmed by the shear quantity of some S. and B. documents, reading Power Standards: Identifying the Standards that Matter the Most by Douglas Reeves is really helpful for giving you permission to prioritize S & B’s and go for the really important learning. No one wants to be “a mile wide and inch deep” and if we take the benchmarks as a laundry list, rather than a suggestion, this is exactly what our teaching will look like. Here is a presentation on the Power Standard concept link to slideshare.net

    Thanks for the thought provoking post and great discussion.

    Enjoy the conference!

    • More and more of them are skill based and in fact some teachers do find it frustrating in the reverse not to be told what to teach (though not a problem for me, it is an issue for some who are looking for guidance and coherence in a program).

      And I think this is a direct result of standards in the first place. We’re now counted on standards for so long to tell us what to teach that we don’t know what to teach.

      Thank for the link and the info…and I think you’re right to often schools push benchmarks as a laundry list rather than suggestions…and they quickly become overwhelming and frustrating.

  11. I am new to educational blogging as I just started in the BKK COETAIL cohort. I appreciated Adrienne’s and Meagan’s posts, but it was Jeff’s “alarmist” title that drew me in – lol. I think S&B are necessary, although I’m usually thoroughly bored working on them. As educators we need to clearly show what is guiding our teaching. That is why the idea of differentiating between content and learning S&B intrigues me. It seems both can work together. Technology would fit right in with the learning S&B. The stale way of learning (20th century) that Jeff often mentions can be altered by learning S&B. However, I feel we need content S&B to guide the direction of student learning.

    I hated grammar as a student but can read and write well. I can’t remember why something is written a certain way, but I write it correctly because I was taught those rules I can no longer recall. If I were guided as a student by only learning S&B I would have never concentrated on grammar. Without content guidance I would have focused on solving problems on how to catch fish instead of how to write sentences. I see value in teaching; “The student will show how class inequities, combined with advances in technology, led to the industrial revolution.” (Chet’s post) because class inequities as a change agent can easily be related to what is happening in Egypt and Libya now.

    Nonetheless, we have all taught students that merely want to be spoon fed what is on the test so they can memorize and regurgitate. They can recall well to get the grade, but couldn’t think their way out of a paper bag. This is where Jeff’s emphasis and Meagan’s learning S&B can improve teaching and learning. Encouraging students to take the content they learned about class inequities; researching where it is causing change now, and where it might in the future, would be highly relevant.

    As usual I seem to have landed on a more centrist approach. Nonetheless, thanks to all for this discussion as I would not be able to find the middle without reading about both ends of the continuum.

    • Glad we could help….and I do think the answer is somewhere in the middle….maybe. :)

      We’ll see where this goes….

  12. Sorry, folks, but the cup is full already. No room to add. Time to drain the cup to make room for fresh sustenance.

    Since school hours are a constant, for every important piece of skill/content we want to add, something has to go (a concept which has eluded many curriculum people thus far).

    Here’s the discussion:

    “Do you believe, Mr/Mrs. Curriculum Coordinator, that skills such as creativity, problem solving, and collaboration are important? After all, it’s in our mission statement.”

    “Undoubtedly.”

    “Then, that’s our curriculum, right?”

    “No, wait, we still need English [cue "thump" sound of dusty binders of standards], and Biology [*thump*], Math [*thump, thump*], Chemistry, Physics, Geology, and the Study of the Ming Dynasty As Well As Other Relevant Topics [*many thumps*].

    “…but then there’s no time for our 21st century standards.”

    “No, so teachers can just be creative and divergent WHILE they teach everything else!”

    That might be true if there were ample and flexible time in the school day. There ain’t. The Fat Cat traditional subjects are pushing everyone else out of the hot-tub of education.

    McREL did a neat little piece in 1999 pointing out that they considered the current US benchmarks far too numerous to go into any depth in the Traditional topics…much less to add new ones. Neat reading, but steel yourself if you’re an arts supporter…the crux of the article centered on a survey asking the average American what parts of the current curriculum should stay, and which parts should go, with the assumption that SOME PARTS HAD TO GO.

    link to mcrel.org

    That was 1999. No prizes for guessing if content has decreased or increased since then.

    I reiterate my call for a severe reduction in the amount of standards teachers are mandated to cover, to free up time for our 21st century skills.

    The Traditional subjects need to go on a crash diet, before schools die of bloated curricula. We need more room in the hot-tub…time for the Fat Cat Subjects to go on a diet, so the sleek new 21 century learning skills to take their rightful place, seated right on the bubble jet.

    Failing that, we can only address piles and binders of standards and benchmarks in a very superficial way. With piles of information to transfer to student’s minds, where is the time for divergent thinking? Creativity? Problem/Project Based Learning?

    Teaching students to discuss, analyze, and be creative requires time. Ask any teacher; time is of shorter supply than ever, as standards accumulate, but NEVER disappear.

  13. As a early childhood teacher, I’d like to offer some suggestions based on my “adventures” in the classroom.

    1. Get rid of “grade levels”. They do a poor job of grouping students academically. I’ve taught Kindergarteners who could read and understand chapter books and 5th graders who didn’t know the alphabet. While age does make a difference, I would like to see more multi-age groupings.

    2. All students, regardless of age or ability, should be taught to think critically, make comparisons, communicate effectively, and problem-solve. It isn’t about the “stuff” (paper or electronic), it is about being able to think, plan, and act. The stuff will continue to evolve, we just need our curriculum standards to be less dependent on the stuff and more reflective on the application of skills learned.

    3. Learning is a process, not a race and not a product. Stop treating it like one with terms “meets the standard” and “does not meet the standard”.

    I have to say I am concerned about the shift I’ve noticed over the past 20 years in my classroom. Every year, my students seem to be more dependent on someone else to give them the answer or to solve their problem for them.

    Has anyone else noticed a change?

  14. There is absolutely no reason why creativity, problem-solving, and collaboration (as well as other 21st c skills) can’t *BE* part of the standard, and for those to be incorporated into any subject area — as long as we remove some of the content. Students need to go deeper within learning, not wider.

    Changing the standards and what they ask of learners (and teachers!) addresses this issue. Simply removing some of the standards does not.

  15. I am a student at University of South Alabama majoring in elementary education. I personally have not had to deal with Benchmarks and Standards. I have had several people that have been in the teaching profession for several years and they are actually getting out of teaching because of the two things you are not happy with either. I do not think that teachers should be made judged on their students test scores. To some degree teachers should be accountable for the progress their students make however it should be based on the individual students level of progress. Even though I can not relate personally to your aggravation I certainly think about being in your situation.

  16. and all these years I thought I was the only one having a hard time matching Standards and Benchmarks to education technology. It’s nice to know I’m not alone

  17. Well Jeff, although this is an older thread S&B are still alive and kicking. While perusing through my RSS Reader I linked to a link to a link (you know how it goes) and came upon Visual Literacy Standards approved by ACRL Board . Hopefully these standards will be pragmatic and effective. Hold our breaths?

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