For the Common Core, A Different Sort of Benchmark

Sep 16, 2014 by

By Marc Tucker –

Years ago, when we were putting our New Standards project together, Phil Daro, the director of New Standards, and the standards design team, headed by Ann Borthwick, decided to do something very important. They built the standards around examples of student work that met the standards. We had statements of the usual sort—the student should know this and be able to do that—but they felt that these statements were necessarily abstract. To know what they really meant, both student and teacher would need examples of work that actually met the standards. Ann had previously directed the effort to build the famous Victorian Certificate standards in Victoria, Australia, which peppered their standards document with examples, but New Standards was the first to make the examples the very heart of the work.

Our standards consisted mainly of a series of performance tasks given to students and, for each task, an example of exemplary student work (actual student work, in fact). Each piece of student work was annotated to show which piece of the student work illustrated the relevant standard, with a note about why the work met the standard. Any given piece of student work would typically contain sections illustrating several different standards.

Both students and teachers would look at our standards books, and, say, over and over again, “Oh, now I know what they mean. I can do that.” Or, they might say, “I cannot do it yet, but now that I know what is wanted, I know what I have to do to meet the standard.” Teachers would post examples of work that met the standards on classroom walls. Students would critique their own work in relation to the examples. It was the examples, not the declarative statements of the standards, that really “set the standard.”

via For the Common Core, A Different Sort of Benchmark – Top Performers – Education Week.

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