Specificity addresses whether the language used in standards and indicators is detailed enough to be accurately interpreted. If the language of an indicator does not adequately specify the knowledge or skills that students need to learn, it cannot be consistently assessed and aligned with instructional approaches. To determine whether an indicator is adequately specific, two questions might be asked:
1. Will teachers know what students should know and be able to do?
2. Will teachers know what students have learned previously in order to develop an instructional approach that meets the needs of each learner?
The content described in content area standards should also be of a consistent or similar grain size—that is, readers should be able to anticipate how large or small a scope of content will be addressed in any one indicator (Marzano & Kendall, 1997). When the level of specificity is inconsistent, the purpose of the standards becomes less clear. If one indicator describes knowledge or skills that would take a student several weeks to master, and another indicator describes knowledge that would just take minutes to learn, the document becomes unwieldy to users who seek to consult it as they plan a unit or lesson.
This information was taken from NDE’s Content Area Standards Reference Guide. The reference guide, including the references mentioned above, is located here.