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Rationale for Content Area Standards

There are several reasons content area standards are developed and adopted. They include:

1. Setting Expectations for Student Learning
Content area standards clearly describe what students need to know and be able to do, placing student learning at the center of schooling. By setting clear expectations for learning, content area standards offer a framework for teachers when designing teaching and learning experiences, and provide a means for students to set personal learning goals associated with academic success (Downing, 2005).

2. Understanding Strengths and Gaps in Student Learning
Content area standards help educators understand and share information about specific strengths and/or gaps in student knowledge and ability, which can inform decisions to improve teaching and learning. This knowledge can help teachers differentiate instruction and thus meet the learning needs of all students (Wertheim & Leyser, 2002).

3. Establishing Rigorous Expectations for Student Learning
The identification of content area standards provides a means to set higher expectations for student learning. With increasing demands in the job market for highly-skilled workers (Hanushek, Woessmann & Peterson, 2012), it is incumbent on state departments of education to ensure rigorous learning expectations. Rigorous expectations for learning ensure that students are prepared for postsecondary education and careers upon high school graduation.

4. Providing Continuity and Setting High Standards in All Schools
Drawing from a common set of standards ensures that students who may change schools or classrooms do not miss or repeat particular content and stay on a trajectory towards college and career readiness (Kendall, 2011). As students are increasingly mobile (Ihrke, 2014), it is vital that schools develop curriculum from a common set of content area standards so students have equal access to an effective education regardless of their mobility.

5. Promoting Educator Collaboration
Adopting a common set of content area standards allows teachers to collaborate on lesson planning and assessment development. This collaboration can result in more effective lessons, alignment between instruction and assessment, and can positively impact professional growth (Fabilliar & Jones, 2002).

This information was taken from NDE’s Content Area Standards Reference Guide.  The reference guide, including the references mentioned above, is located here.