State Learning Standards
Learning standards are the yardsticks that determine the educational expectations from the students of K-12 students. Every parent sends their student to schools with the expectation that their child they will receive a quality, well-rounded education. Upholding these requirements, with the availability of student and teacher resources in mind, the schools set forth learning standards for every grade and level. These learning standards are highly useful as they provide the schools with some guidelines that, if followed, aids in the purposeful intellectual development of the students.
The learning standards are designed to support the growth of a student while ensuring the smooth functioning of the school's educational policy. Thus, the learning standards that were adopted as part of the standard-based education reform movement in the recent past have changed the entire approach to K-12 education in most states. Higher education in the U.S. has not adopted such a system at this time in most states, but this could change if long-term success can be achieved at the primary and secondary levels.
With that in mind, let us now turn to the method in which state learning standards are created. The learning standards system for any state is typically created by the state board of education, and this system plays an important role in preparing the education policy of the students of every level from K- 12. The state boards of education are generally comprised of a board of trustees or directors who are either elected or appointed, and their task is to create policy pertaining to the school curriculum.
There are also often boards of trustees or directors at the regional and individual school district level. This elected body chooses the content and direction of the curriculum of the schools falling in that region or district, within the guidelines of the state board. These boards at all levels typically work closely with the state and national education departments to write policy, choose textbooks, etc.
While the boards of education create and approve policies, they do not typically enforce them. In most states the enforcement of these policies falls upon the state education departments. This is why the boards of education and departments work so closely together. The formulation as well as the execution of these policies is obviously equally important. The state education departments are often tasked with designing the assessments for students as well, making communication between the boards and departments all the more vital. For example, if a state board of education approves curriculum and policies regarding math requirements for students, the education department or agency must be able to understand the policy and its intent in order to create a proper student assessment.
This type of assessment is typically done through the standardized tests for students designed for each subject and each grade level. These tests are used to determine if a school has been teaching according to the standards set by the state, regional, and district boards. This type of standardized system has come under fire in recent years, as some say that these tests do not accurately reflect the curriculum set forth by the regional and district boards, and other detractors point out that using such tests as a marker for success causes teachers to spend time "teaching to the test" rather than focusing on the students.
Learning Standards by State