Guidance on Standards, Assessments, and Accountability
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EXAMPLE: Criteria for Judging the Quality of Content Standards

The Council of Chief State School Officers is working with a number of organizations to consolidate criteria for evaluating content standards. The current draft of the document, Criteria for High Quality Standards: A Consensus and Consolidation, contains a discussion of six criteria and questions to guide users in analyzing their content standards. The following excerpt from the document lists the criteria and guiding questions.

Criterion 1. Standards should expect and support all students achieving to high levels.

Are all students given the opportunity to reach high standards?

Do the standards reflect high levels of achievement/knowledge in the disciplines?

Can students demonstrate achievement in a variety of ways?

Criterion 2. Content standards should reflect the strengths of the relevant academic disciplines.

Is each discipline covered adequately/completely/appropriately?

Are the standards linked across the disciplines (common language, common framework, cross references)?

Do the standards reflect knowledge of teaching and learning in the discipline?

Criterion 3. Content standards should be specific enough to clearly convey the important academic knowledge and skills that all students should learn, but broad enough to allow for multiple approaches to curriculum, instruction, course design, and assessment.

Do the standards allow districts to elaborate their own curriculum, teaching strategies, etc.?

Are the standards rich enough to create clear understandings of expected teaching and learning?

Can the standards be used for reporting, assessment, and accountability purposes?

Do the standards reflect a balance between knowledge and skills?

Criterion 4. In addition to content standards themselves, there should be a plan to implement the content standards, which would involve the development of performance standards, assessments, and accountability measures. In the interim, content standards should be illustrated by examples of student work that meet the content standards.

Does the State have a plan for involving its districts?

Does the State have a plan for moving from standards to their implementation in instructions practice?

Does the State have interim performance indicators?

Does the State have a process for insuring alignment?

EXAMPLE (Cont.): Criteria for Judging the Quality of Content Standard

Criterion 5. Content standards should be world class standards.

Have the standards been compared to the standards in other countries, other States, other districts, and to national standards?

Criterion 6. Content standards must be understandable and convincing to the lay public.

Are the standards clear, concise, and jargon-free?

Does the State provide for public discussion and opportunity for comment?

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Last Modified: 10/10/2003