academic-standards-for-the-other-content-areasNot The Common Core: 6 Sets Of Academic Standards For The “Other Content Areas”

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.

1. National Standards for Arts Education

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.

  • Dance

  • Music

  • Theater

  • Visual arts

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.

2. National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies

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.

  • Culture

  • 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

  • Global connections

  • 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.

3. Next Generation Science Standards

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.

  • Life sciences

  • Physical sciences

  • 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.

4. National Educational Technology Standards

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

  • Digital citizenship

  • Technology operations and concepts

5. National Standards for Financial Literacy

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.

  • Earning income

  • Buying goods and services

  • Using credit

  • Saving

  • Financial investing

  • 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.

6. National Standards for K-12 Physical Education

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