A system that is standards-based focuses on practices that ensure all students achieve the standards in all content areas. In this section of Getting Started, actions and resources are recommended to help educator teams develop shared understanding of the standards and benchmarks in a content area.
Shared understanding of the standards and benchmarks is a goal achieved through the intentional collaboration of educators. Understanding is considered to be shared when all staff can articulate:
· What students need to know and be able to do.
· What proficient grade-level performance looks like or sounds like.
· Learning progressions within and across grade levels.
· Opportunities for integration across different content areas.
Shared understanding “promotes clarity [of expectations], focused interaction, and thus collective invention” (Schmoker, 2001, p. 88). Though standards and benchmarks set the learning expectations for all students, variations in teacher expectations are evidence of the need for more work to develop shared understanding of standards and benchmarks.
It is not a question of if teachers have expectations of students but what expectations they have and whether those expectations are likely to lead to appropriate student learning trajectories. A foundational study (Rosenthal and Rubin, 1978) demonstrates that students are likely to reach the expectations that their teachers have for them, whether their expectations are high or low. Other research indicates that when teachers have lower expectations, they do so for all the students in the class (Rubie-Davis 2007). In other words, lower expectations can lead to units and lessons designed for less rigor than what is required by the standards and benchmarks.
Educator collaboration toward shared understanding of standards and benchmarks is intended to ensure that each student receives a rigorous and well-rounded education regardless of the classroom or school attended.
Developing shared understanding is not accomplished through a single meeting or task. It is the ongoing work of challenging and deepening current understandings of the standards and benchmarks. Guidance and resources throughout the Portal are specifically designed to support educator teams in developing shared understanding of standards and benchmarks. For the Academic Standards component, five important actions are recommended:
1. Explore the role and purpose of standards within a standards-based education system.
2. Examine the standards-based education system.
3. Develop core values and beliefs about learning within a standards-based education system.
4. Build capacity for continuous improvement.
5. Develop shared understanding of implementation.
Rosenthal, R., & Rubin, D.B. (1978). Interpersonal expectancy effects: The first 345 studies. Behavior and Brain Sciences, 1(3), 377-415.
Rubie-Davies, C.M. (2007). Classroom interactions: Exploring the practices of high- and low-expectation teachers. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 77, 289-306.
Schmoker, M. (2001). The results fieldbook: practical strategies from dramatically improved schools. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.