by Maryalene LaPonsie
There has been plenty of discussion lately regarding the Common Core, a state-led initiative to create learning standards in Math and English-Language Arts for K-12 students. While the Common Core may be getting the most press, it is not the only standard system available today.
Teachers and parents alike should be aware learning standards exist for everything from physical education to arts to technology. While their use is not mandated in every state, standards can help guide curriculum decisions and ensure students graduate with a comprehensive set of skills and knowledge.
Currently going through a revision process, the National Standards for Arts Education have been developed by the Consortium of National Arts Education Association with funding from the National Association for Music Education. The standards provide learning benchmarks in four arts fields.
The revised standards are intended to not only give students experience in creating, performing and responding to the arts but also to provide more emphasis on how the arts play an integral role in the larger education process.
Originally published in 1994, the National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies got an update in 2010. The new standards, developed by the National Council for the Social Studies, use the same 10 themes as those published originally.
Time, continuity and change
People, places and environment
Individual development and identity
Individuals, groups and institutions
Power, authority and governance
Production, distribution and consumption
Science, technology and society
Civic ideals and practices
While the same themes are used in both the 1994 and 2010 standards, the revised curriculum guide provides teachers with more information on what students should know within each theme as well as how they can demonstrate their knowledge.
For science teachers, the Next Generation Science Standards are slated to replace the National Science Education Standards and the Benchmarks for Science Literacy in many states. The standards are still a work in progress with the National Research Council partnering with 26 states to fine tune learning expectations in four content areas.
Earth and space sciences
Engineering and technology
Once complete, the standards will provide a framework for science studies in both elementary and secondary schools. For example, kindergartens might be expected to understand the concepts of push and pull while high school students may be using computer simulations to model solutions to real-world engineering problems.
Known as NETS, the National Educational Technology Standards are a product of the International Society for Technology in Education. While other standards apply only to students, ISTE has created NETS for teachers, administrators, coaches and computer science teachers. For educators, the standards address the skills and knowledge needed to be effective in the classroom and other educational settings.
For students, the NETS focus on acquiring skills in six categories.
Creativity and innovation
Communication and collaboration
Research and information fluency
Critical thinking, problem solving and decision making
Technology operations and concepts
The Council for Economic Education has created National Standards for Financial Literacy for students in the K-12 grades. Providing lessons intended for real-world application once a student graduates, the standards focus on six areas of knowledge and understanding.
Buying goods and services
Protecting and insuring
In addition to writing standards, the Council for Economic Education provides benchmarks for teachers to use in the 4th, 8th and 12th grades to ensure students are on track to becoming financially literate.
Finally, the National Association for Sport and Physical Education has compiled five standards it deems necessary for students to meet in order to be considered physically literate. The following are its recommended standards for K-12 students.
Demonstrate competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns
Apply knowledge of concepts, principles, strategies and tactics related to movement and performance
Demonstrate knowledge and skills to achieve and maintain a health-enhancing level of physical activity and fitness
Exhibit responsible personal and social behavior that respects self and others
Recognize the value of physical activity for health, enjoyment, challenge, self-expression and/or social interaction
While the NASPE standards are voluntary, some states have adopted their own standards for schools operating in their communities.
Maryalene LaPonsie writes about education, technology and careers for several websites, including onlineschools.com