What are Learning Standards?

Learning Standards by State
National Learning Standards
What are Common Core State Standards?
Who Creates Learning Standards

Learning standards are typically applied to the K- 12 education system and primarily deal with the content of the curriculum in our schools. Learning standards are meant to determine the education policy and systems of the schools and are a part of the standards-based education reform movement in the recent past, a movement intended to provide more a consistent education across all school districts. Learning standards are also used to develop instruments to assess the curriculum and the standards that students need to meet.

In the US, developing learning standards falls under the jurisdiction of each respective state government. The states typically have a state board of education that approves learning standards, and the learning standards themselves are developed by the board of education in tandem with the state's education department or agency. Depending on the setup of the state, individual region and/or district boards of education can set their own learning standards as long as they fall within the learning standards set by the state.

Learning standards are also used to determine what should be included in standardized exams. In turn, these standardized tests are used to determine if the learning standards are being met. This provides a reciprocal system of feedback for schools and boards of education can use to revise their methods when designing curriculum.

For example, say a state board of education has worked with educational professionals in the state to design learning standards for third grade math. To determine if these learning standards are being met, the state department of education develops a standardized test to be given to these students based on the standards. This test is then given to the third graders throughout the state in order to determine if the students have learned the math skills set out in the learning standards. If any schools have a significant amount of students who do not meet the requirements according to the test, these schools will be required to bring their methods in line with the learning standards in order to bring the scores up for the next testing period.

However, it many schools have a high failure rate on the test, the board or department of education has to make a determination as to the causes. Typically, the board will review whether the test itself is not measuring what it is supposed to measure or if the learning standards are too stringent. If it is determined that the learning standards are too stringent, they can either modify those objectives or rewrite them entirely.

Some educational professionals see learning standards as a positive move in our school systems. They see these standards as a way to ensure that all students in public schools, regardless of what school district, receive a high quality education. Others see these standards as too stringent and feel they do not allow for flexibility in teaching. They feel that, with learning standards, teachers are told what to use for their lesson plans, rubrics, etc., and cannot be creative in their approaches. Regardless of any misgivings about learning standards, it is clear that the creation of such standards is becoming an increasingly popular option.

More Information On Learning Standards

  1. The National Board For Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS)