Action Overview: Background and Structure

Action: Develop a shared understanding of the background and structure of the standards.

Shared understanding of the background and structure of the standards is a goal achieved through the intentional collaboration of educators. Understanding is considered to be shared when all staff can:

· Articulate the process for development and revision of Minnesota’s academic standards.

· Articulate possible sources of influence on the development of the set of standards.

· Navigate the structure of the standards document.

Content area standards are reviewed (and revised) by stakeholder committees. The committee’s work is informed by current research in the discipline and the resulting standards may require important considerations including:

· New, changing, or emerging content area knowledge or skills.

· New understanding of how students learn specific knowledge or skills.

· Improved instructional practices likely to increase student engagement and achievement.

· Revised rigor or expectations for student learning to develop career and college readiness.

In addition, Minnesota is bound by requirements in federal laws such as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA, 2015) (Public Law No. 114-95, § 1177) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, 2004) (Public Law No. 101-476, § 1142) along with guidance set forth by the U.S. Department of Education.

In addition, decisions made by standards committees are reflective of requirements, constraints, and definitions set down by Minnesota laws. One important state context to consider is Minnesota’s tradition supporting local control. As a “local control” state, Minnesota places value on the ability of local communities to develop curriculum and instruction to meet the needs of their students. In other words, the standards identify the learning outcomes for all students, but decisions about the learning experiences provided and materials that will be used are made by local educational agencies.

In response to federal regulations requiring academic standards (Improving America’s Schools Act of 1994, Public Law No. 103-382), Minnesota requires the development of state standards (Minn. Stat. § 120B.021) for the following subject areas: language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, physical education, and the arts. Local standards must be adopted or developed for health, career and technical education and world languages. State legislation also includes a variety of definitions of key terms and concepts, such as credit and standard.

How do educators access the standards?

The standards for each content area can be accessed on the Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards page and also by clicking on the icon depicting the state of Minnesota on the homepage for this Portal.

How are standards documents organized?

Resources in this section will help stakeholders understand the structure of the different standards documents, including the state numbering system and specific content area use of structures such as sections, strands, or sub-strands.

How often should educators explore this content?

While staff may likely only access the information in this section when revised standards are released, it is important to ensure that educators who are new to the field or a content area are provided opportunities to explore this introductory material.

Suggested Activities

The Portal provides an activity to learn general information about the Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards as well as specific information for each content area.