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Standards-Based Education

August 22, 2013

Yes, again!

For years we’ve been talking about Standards-Based Education and now due to LD1422 the conversation is taking a giant leap forward. But what does standards-based mean? And, how about proficiency-based, student-centered learning and, standards-referenced? In April of 2012 I wrote a post on this topic but recently the question came up again asking for clarity so this post is provided for that reason.

I feel like educators are continuously trying to get a better understanding of these terms and of course, the bottom line is how does this impact teaching and learning? I remember during many years of my 30 years of teaching sifting through articles, research, and communicating about what I was reading with colleagues to try and make sense of education topics. That hasn’t changed for me working at the Maine Department of Education. The only difference is that much more information “comes across my desk”.

Yesterday I was honored to be part of the interviews for the finalist for the 2014 Maine Teacher of the Year. The process for selection is almost a year long so the three finalists were thrilled to be there and the conversation about teaching and learning was wonderful. I was reminded of the passion teachers have for the important work they do. The next teacher of the year will be announced at a surprise assembly at the teachers school in September. Congratulations to all three finalists! They are grade 4 teacher Mary Graziano from Hartland Consolidated School, grades 6 and 7 ELA teacher Karen MacDonald, from King MIddle School, and kindergarten teacher Suzen Polk-Hoffses from Milbridge Elementary School.

There was a question about standards-based education and I liked the answer the teacher gave which included “It’s not about the grade, it’s about the learning.” Earlier this year I listened to Cole Castorina, a student at York High School say: ” I know that I know it and I have confidence that I understand the concept. I didn’t just learn it for the assessment.” Cole and 2 other students were interviewed for the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative’s video series. You can access the York High School video with music teachers Rob Westerberg and Dan Sovetsky and principal Bob Stevens at this link. It is one thing to look at the chart below and another to hear students, teachers, and administrators articulate what it’s all about!

If you are trying to understand the difference between standards-based and standards-referenced researcher Robert Marzano has a diagram that provides clarity that you might find helpful.

Screen shot 2013-08-22 at 8.03.27 AM

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