Aune Shares Where Standards Come From

By November 13, 2012 No Comments

Academic standards have become prevalent and detailed in Minnesota’s public schools. So, where do standards come from and why do we have them? Beth Aune, director of academic standards for the Minnesota Department of Education , gave attendees of the 2012 MREA Conference an inside look at the evolution, process and purpose of standards. She is passionate about standards, waking up and sometimes even going to sleep thinking about them.

Aune says the process is pragmatic, complex and recurring. “Standards have and must change over time,” she said.  She recognizes that there is a lot of work that goes into adapting curriculum for each new standard, but says revisions are necessary to stay contemporary with best practices and results. Here’s a quick overview of how a new standards is adopted today:

Review Process
The process begins with the Commissioner selecting a committee of members with a focus on those who have content expertise and cover a span of grade levels and geography, she said. The committee then takes these steps:

  • Analyze current standards.
  • Advise Technical Writing Team of needed changes.
  • Review written drafts.
  • Endorse the final draft of standards and submit to Commissioner for approval.
  • Gain feedback from teachers and the community and make the necessary modifications.
  • Gain expert reviews and modify the draft.
  • Gain approval from the Commissioner on the final standards for a specific subject matter

The Tenets
The implementation of the standards today focus on what are known as the “Big Four.” These tenets are now considered essential to improving student learning:

  1. Well-articulated curriculum
  2. Delivery and instruction
  3. Assessment
  4. Feedback to the student

How’d we get here?
While the need to develop standards date back to ancient times, the evolution of Minnesota’s Standards started in 1970s with the modern system being first adopted only a decade ago. Here’s a look at the history of academic standards in Minnesota.

1970s: Minnesota Educational Assessment Program begins, marking the first large testing system in the state. MDE develops Some Essential Learner Outcomes (SELOs) for specific subject matter instruction. Legislature enact

1980s: A Nation At Risk report is released and calls for sweeping reform due to wide achievement gaps, high drop-out rates and lack of preparedness for college and the workforce. State of Board of Education moves from “input” (hours of work) to “output” (outcomes and results). In 1988, Legislative Auditor report released, stating that at most one-third of districts have policies that established minimum standards for reading and math skills upon graduation. The report stated that many of those with policies had set expectation at one 5th or 8th grade levels.

1990s: SCANS report released, calling for “workplace know-how” in addition to academic skills. Basic Standards (minimum competencies) and Profile of Learning (high standards) adopted. Move begins from standards to assessment.

2000s: Federal enacts groundbreaking initiative No Child Left Behind in 2002. Legislative follows in 2003 with repeal of Profile of Learning and establishes a dual track including new credit-based graduate requirements and more rigorous standards. In 2005, the standards broaden to align with demands of college and work as Minnesota joins American Diploma Project. It poses the challenge of identifying what college readiness looks like in subjects such as the arts. A desire to keep the standards fresh led the state to adopt a review and revision cycle.

Download full presentation on Where Standards Come From