Standards & Benchmarks
In education today, our needs as a world have changed. As a result, the educational outcomes we value have also changed. Developing and assessing the “big outcomes” such as problem solving, reasoning, communication, and critical thinking are considered as important as assessing factual knowledge. Efforts are being made across the world to improve instruction and help students develop these skills. Assessments are more open-ended and/or performance based, requiring more subjective judgments by educators than traditional multiple choice and factual recall tests (Adapted from O’Connor, How to Grade for Learning).
Across the world, dynamic, ongoing discussions about education are taking place. Growing numbers of people including educators, parents, business people, and community members are working together to create what is the driver of educational reform—higher academic standards for all students.
The standards are clear targets for students and teachers across the school. These standards have been a part of our school since the year 2000 and have continued to be reviewed and refined since then. Standards and benchmarks have now been developed for every subject area and every grade level and are the foundation of our curriculum.
CAS has chosen to align our Pre-First through Grade 10 report card system with the standards and to use a key that reflects progress toward the standards. This ensures there is clear alignment with what children are experiencing in the classroom and the information we share with families about student success.
Traditional grading has changed using a standards-based system. Instead of receiving an averaged percent score for an entire subject area such as reading, students receive feedback on each reading standard. Some benchmarks such as fluency and the use of reading strategies are marked beneath the overall standard on the report card. In some cases, the standard is marked as a whole.
Traditional letter grades have been replaced with a numeric 4, 3, 2, 1 scoring scale in all grades except for grades 9 through 12. Grades 9 – 12 are based on the IB scale of 1-7. No comparison can be made from traditional grades to a standards-based system. They are entirely different. A traditional grading system allows averaging of marks on variety of skills, while a standards-based system requires examining evidence on individual skills. In a standards-based system, student learning is measured against the grade level standards which are clear learning targets for students.
The most important shift standards-based teaching requires is a shift in the conversations we have with children. No longer do we talk to students about the need to do homework in order to avoid a zero, now teachers focus on the learning that is missed when assignments aren’t completed. The motivation to learn and do well must be intrinsic if students are to exceed in life; externally managing their behavior by altering grades as a result of effort will not help them create the positive work habits they need in the world of work.
Standards and Benchmarks are the foundation of CAS curriculum. They outline what students should know and be able to do in each subject at the end of every year.