What's in a Standard?
Educational standards are the learning goals for what students should know and be able to do at each grade level. Educational standards help teachers ensure that students have the skills and knowledge they need to be successful, while also helping parents understand what is expected of their children.The Kansas College and Career Readiness Standards (KCCRS) encompass what is expected of students at each grade level in mathematics and English language arts. These standards are designed around three major shifts that promote focus, coherence and rigor.Focus, Coherence and Rigor
The KCCRS demonstrate a linear path of skill development that increases each year by building upon the knowledge and skills gained in the previous year. This kind of coherence connects the learning from one grade to the next. Additionally, the KCCRS encourage the integration of content across content areas. For example, the KCCRS for English Language Arts ask students to read stories and literature, as well as more complex texts that provide facts, content and background knowledge in areas such as science and social studies. Finally, the KCCRS require a greater level of rigor by promoting critical thinking skills and the ability to articulate thinking and reasoning.Shift in Teacher Focus
The KCCRS focus on skills in addition to content material. These standards promote inquiry, problem-based learning and instruction as well as critical thinking skills at all grade levels. These types of analytical skills that are required for success in college, career and life after K-12 schooling are at the forefront of the KCCRS.
“I have put much more emphasis on student responsibility in general. I encourage kids to problem solve the issues they bring to me, from simple issues like forgetting a pencil, to more complex issues, such as a group not functioning well together during a project,” said Kelly Hart, seventh grade English language arts teacher at South Middle School. “I have become more of a facilitator and less of the classroom expert. My students are becoming more competent thinkers and writers as a result. By the end of the year, they are less dependent on me to solve all their problems for them.”
What Does it Look Like for Kids?
In the classroom, students will notice that instruction will likely include more opportunities to demonstrate critical thinking skills, requiring explanation of ideas and articulation of arguments. Additionally, students will be challenged to articulate their understanding of information and demonstrate their ability to apply content knowledge in new ways. This kind of instruction pushes teachers and students to focus on not just the what of content but the why and how as well.