Cal State

1999 Conference on Standards-Based K-12 Education

California State University Northridge

Transcript of William Tarr
(edited by the speaker)
biography of speaker


. _

 Return toconference page
Return to transcript of Stan Metzenberg

Mr. Tarr: Good afternoon. I am a teacher adviser in a unit responsible for the implementation of standards across the District. This means, nuts and bolts, what does a classroom teacher actually do to implement standards? What does it look like? A couple of quotes from the magazine "District Mentor Teacher". "The most obvious change student learning standards bring is a shift from a focus starting with what the teachers do in instruction, to what students can demonstrate as a result of that instruction". Another quote is "With standards so clearly defined, teachers are able to prioritize what students should know and be able to do - everyone will feel more confident knowing the assessments are based on the standards".

Standards-based education is supported, organized instruction for all students based on continuing multiple assessments which lead toward student achievement, as measured by established criteria or standards. This means that classroom activities must be aligned to support studentachievement of the standards. The three elements of standards based education are:

The standards - What should students know and be able to do? The assessments - How will students performance be measured? Finally, the instructional practices and resources - How are students provided opportunities and resources to acquire knowledge and skills?

What I want to focus on today is the instructional practices or resources, specifically, what is the role of the district in helping teachers deliver standards to their students? Because the assessments will be aligned to the standards, and with the passage of AB1626 which addresses social promotion, the assessments become high stakes for the students. We need to ensure that our curriculum is aligned to the subject matter being assessed. This doesn't mean we are teaching to the assessments, but it does mean students are given instruction on the material on which they will be assessed. That's only fair.

We have to remember that standards are a floor and not a ceiling for the students. They are not "teach only this", but they are "Teach at least this". Teachers call me and say "Bill, I teach more than in the standards. Does this mean I have to stop?" I say "No, absolutely not!" Our curriculum is not the standards, it is richer than the standards. But to be fair to our students, we have to address the standards with the curriculum. The kids need to know what it is they will be assessed on.

Now, to be sure that our curriculum does address all of the State and District Standards, we have done a curriculum audit in the four content areas addressed by the State Standards. What I will go over is briefly what that curriculum audit looks like, to show how it is we know our curriculum is in fact aligned to the standards.

Now, we did curriculum audits in four content areas. In 1997 we aligned our curriculum to the District standards. At that time the State Standards were still being finalized, so we developed revised Interim Guidelines for Instruction. We knew the State was in the process of writing Content Standards in the four core areas of Mathematics, Language Arts, History/Social Science and Science.

To align our curriculum to the State Standards, the district performed a curriculum audit. We did that first for Language Arts and Mathematics, and we just completed the audit process for Science and History/Social Science, the last two content areas adopted by the State Board. I will briefly outline the process of that curriculum audit.

First, as a District, we reviewed the nationally developed process for aligning curriculum with state and district standards with the National Council for Basic Education and reviewed that process with representatives from the California Department of Education. Then we solicited districtwide school-based educators and classroom teachers to participate in the curriculum audit process in order to accomplish the following:

We needed to align the State and District Standards to see if there was any thing out of order. We needed to review, analyze, and designate which standards are to be emphasized in the curriculum -- because obviously in grades 9-12 teachers have to choose which standards to address in each class. Do you address all in every class? We had to look at that point and determine which standards will be assessed with classroom marks in specific grade levels or courses. Then we needed to measure the degree by which representative and performance objectives covered the standards or benchmark. We engaged a curriculum audit team in this process, and I have an overhead.

(Overhead 1)

Now it's probably not a lot better for you, but look at it as a grid. I guarantee after spending hours and hours looking at this thing, I wasn't happy either. What we did was to put the District Standards, based upon the national standards on the top, and we put the California Standards on the left. Then we looked at what our old curriculum was. We marked where our old curriculum addressed specific points within the State and national standards and we would check those off. Where we found that we had gaps -- this is a sample matrix - I have the working copies. We had gaps and we knew we had to write new objectives to address the state standards.

Once we determined this alignment, then we are going to publish our Secondary Guidelines for Instruction, and an Elementary Course of Study. We are exploring the possibility of putting all of this on a CD. For $1.25, we can give a teacher the entire K-12 District Curriculum, including State Standards, District Standards and sample assessments on a single CD. We are hoping the teachers can cut and paste when writing their letters to send home to the parents in the first weeks of the semester.

This is our effort as a District to basically prepare our teachers because we have a lot of fabulous people out there, but unless we tell them exactly what to teach to the children, then obviously the kids aren't going to succeed on the assessments. They aren't going to make it on these high stakes assessments coming up. It won't be the students' fault. This is our goal and what we are working on at this time. (Applause)


Contact the organizers

Postal and telephone information:

1999 Conference on Standards-Based K12 Education

College of Science and Mathematics

California State University Northridge

18111 Nordhoff St.

Northridge CA 91330-8235

Telephone: (Dr. Klein: 818-677-7792)

FAX: 818-677-3634 (Attn: David Klein)