Who creates Learning Standards?
Determining the correct learning standards has become one of the primary objectives of every educational institution in the US. Learning standards are, in basic terms, yardsticks used to define the standard of learning required for a particular subject at a particular grade level. These standards have come about as a part of a movement in the US to create more standardized learning experiences for all students, despite what local school district they attend.
Learning standards are typically created by educational professionals, either in national or regional associations for a particular subject, or by state boards of education or state education departments. When a national or regional association creates learning standards, they do so in order to improve the standard of education in their discipline. These learning standards are not mandatory for any school districts. Instead they are designed to be guidelines by which school officials can create their curriculum.
In the US, each individual state has the right to develop its own learning standards and set the educational budget and curriculum. Typically, a state has two separate entities that work closely together on the state level to develop and approve learning standards for the students in their respective states. The board of education makes the final approval of learning standards and often has a hand in their creation.
The state education department or agency often has oversight of developing and implementing methods to ensure that the policies set forth by the state board of education, including learning standards, are met by the schools. Since this department (or agency, depending on the state) assists in implementing these policies, they typically have significant input into what learning standards are created and approved by the state board of education. In many states, regional and local boards can also create learning standards. These standards must fall within the standards set forth by the state board and cannot conflict with them.
In order to modify these learning standards and to test whether the students in the school districts are meeting them, states give out standardized tests based on the learning standards they have employed. These standardized tests are typically developed by the state's education department and are given to every student at a particular grade level in all public schools. If a school has a significant amount of students who fail the tests, it is a sign for the education department that the learning standards are not being achieved. Often, these schools will have to give out more teacher resources and change their lesson plans, rubrics, etc., to attempt to bring up the number of students who pass the test in that grade during the next testing period. However, if many schools across the state see a high number of student failures on these standardized tests, the state boards of education may choose to modify the learning standards if they feel the significant failure rate is due to unachievable standards.
In short, mandatory learning standards are created by state boards of education, and voluntary learning standards are created by regional and national subject matter organizations. They learning standards portray a trend toward continued standardization when it comes to our school curriculum.