Fuel Student Achievement By Building a Culture of Standards Alignment

Preparing every student to progress academically with the skills they need to be successful in school and in life requires supporting students physically, emotionally and academically. Much has been written about keeping students safe in school and supporting their emotional needs, both of which are vital to students’ academic success.

In our high stakes testing and accountability environment, academic success is rooted in students’ mastery of the state standards. State standards dictate what students must know and be able to do by the end of each grade level. To achieve the goal of preparing students to be successful academically, all campus and district leaders must be focused on aligning instruction with the standards in order to ensure that all students have learned at least what the standards require by the end of the school year. 

Have you built a culture of standards alignment on your campus? Consider your answers to these questions:

Bulding a culture of standards Alignment: Students around a sign that says "Never Stop Learning."
  • Does the district have a written curriculum to guide implementation of the standards?
  • Does the district curriculum communicate the level of student performance that demonstrates mastery of the standards?
  • Do central office curriculum staff provide training and support to help educators understand the standards deeply?
  • Do professional learning communities’ (PLCs) discussions focus on teaching and assessing mastery of the standards?
  • Do teachers use the standards to guide what they want students to accomplish in each of their lessons?
  • Do campus and district administrators focus on standards alignment during classroom observations?
  • Do campus support staff (i.e., instructional coaches, resource/pull-out-teachers) provide guidance and/or assistance to classroom teachers to support differentiation and intervention?
  • Before providing remedial support for struggling students, do campus support staff have planning time with the student’s teacher to support continuity of instruction? 
  • Is assessment data analyzed to inform instruction, professional development, and curriculum updates?

For some students, standards mastery will come easily and keeping students engaged will require more rigorous instruction and activities.  For others, meeting the requirements of the standards will require daily struggle and additional support. The goal of preparing all students to progress to the next grade level may sound routine but in reality, will require herculean effort by classroom, campus and district educators. Building a culture of standards-alignment will ensure that everyone is rowing in the same direction for the next school year.

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