This is the third in a series of posts about learning standards. We recognize we must go beyond the state standards in order to support teaching and learning to the highest possibilities for our PK-12 students in Texas. We read in the high level alignment indicators of the Visioning Document Implementation Matrix:
Students learning is based on challenging, meaningful content standards that have been articulated, specified, and described PK-12. Learning standards in all content areas extend beyond the state curriculum including such things as:
- clarification/enhancement of the cognitive demand of the standards
- supports for ensuring that students have access to the full content of the discipline
- identification/clustering of “power” standards to ensure depth over breadth
- communicating linkages across disciplines.
The first post in this series mentioned the importance of awareness and regular access to the state standards in order to ground ourselves in the practice of standards-focused or standards-driven instruction. The second post in this series described the clarification/enhancement of the cognitive demand of the standards. This post will clarify the supports needed to ensure that students have access to the full content of the discipline.
When we consider accessibility, we look to the prerequisite skills needed to learn course-specific content. In order for students to have access to the full content of the discipline, curricular supports must be in place to organize and clarify content directly aligned as prerequisite skills with the topics within each course. In addition, teachers must pre-assess students to determine the level of understanding of the prerequisite skills as well as utilize instructional pedagogy skills to differentiate in the classroom as a result of the data gathered from such an assessment.
The questions below may be used in reflection about accessibility related to curricular supports and teacher responsibility for pre-assessment and differentiation.
- What content skills directly related to a given topic are students responsible for learning in previous grade levels?
- In what context are these prerequisite skills learned by the students?
- At what cognitive level are these prerequisite skills learned by the students?
- In what ways are these content skills expanded in breadth or depth in the current grade level?
- In following grade levels, how are the content skills utilized?
Teachers: Pre-Assessments & Differentiation
- Am I familiar with prerequisite skills aligned with my course content?
- Does my understanding of the prerequisite skills for my course include the corresponding context and cognitive level?
- In what ways do I pre-assess my students to gauge understanding of prerequisite skills?
- How do I utilize the results of such pre-assessments to implement meaningful and appropriately challenging lessons for my students?
- In order to balance an organizational plan that supports learners entering the learning process at various points, the teacher may ask: In what ways have I designed these lessons so that my students are working to the same big idea, but at a developmentally appropriate starting point, depending on their current understanding?
With the goals of transfer and profound learning, we must consider the prerequisite skills and how they are tied to the “power” standards. That is, how do we see the relationship of prerequisite skills and course-specific skills in terms of “power” standards?
The next post in this series will include identification/clustering of “power” standards to ensure depth over breadth.