Who Decides on the Standards

This evening I was part of a powerful Twitter chat on educational leadership. The discussion prompts came from the book, Leading with Focus (Schmoker). Participating in the chat was also an assignment from a book study I’m participating in using the same book. I’ve had this book on my to-read shelf for a long time, I guess I was now ready to read and take it all in. It has been a thought-provoking read.

One of the prompts this evening was focused on content and curriculum. The quote with the prompt was, “If we try to build too much content into curriculum…it will implode…into “curricular chaos'”- Schmoker.

The curriculum comes from the content, which comes from the standards. We teach standards. But there are so many standards to teach, whether they be the Common Core Standards or written at the state level.

The discussion got me to wondering who actually writes the standards, and as importantly, who approves the standards. They don’t just end up in state education departments, or plopped down on teacher desks like manna from heaven!

My thinking came back to who approves the standards for states. They have the power to say yeah or nay to them as a whole, in part, or to ask for revisions. Those approving entities are the ones ultimately responsible for the curricular chaos as instructional staff do their hardest, and give their best, to meet the standards through content and curriculum.

Many state Departments of Education and/or districts offer professional development on pulling out power, or essential, standards. This helps instructional staff to focus on what is important to teach.

For some reason I found that quite humorous and ironic this evening. A consortium of education organizations, including state Departments of Education and State Boards of Education, review and approve a great quantity of standards. Then state Departments of Education and local districts work to get around all those standards by essentially saying one should ignore all except these few “power” standards (and who decides what is a power standard and what isn’t?). Ironic eh? All that work to approve, then all that work to say ignore most of them.

My question to the Twitter chat group this evening was, “If we want teachers to teach the power standards, then might we want to only provide the power standards?”

What do you think?

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