Like them or not, state and local learning standards and performance benchmarks are critical organizing documents — “taxonomies” to e-learning wonks — for classifying educational resources. Within the US K–12 segment, many states and districts mandate that teachers identify and align all lessons to standards and benchmarks. This, however, is a tedious and somewhat subjective process that can benefits greatly from easy-to-use tools. This is the challenge Curriki has taken on in implementing our new standards alignment tool. We are working hard to deliver our holiday present to you: the new Standards Alignment tab, to be followed quickly in the new year with the “Search and Browse by State Standards” feature.
Although standards alignment may not be something one does for fun, there are great benefits to aligning learning resources to standards. For many K–12 teachers, it is a basic requirement. And for the Curriki community of educators, alignments provide the best method for finding appropriate materials and describing the skills and knowledge covered by an instructional resource. From the greater e-learning perspective, careful alignment to standards for both curricular materials and assessments enables the holy grail of instantaneous and automated prescriptive remediation. Additionally, having a way to browse the standards and see a range of aligned resources helps a community of practitioners develop a common understanding of the intent of the standards and how to approach teaching those concepts and skills.
To understand how this new feature works, let’s take an example of a Florida school. They use Curriki groups to create a set of school-specific collections. A teacher — we’ll call him Roderick — has found a resource from the repository, and added it to his group collection. Let’s say the resource is a activity that involved repeatedly adding two- and three-digit number with re-grouping (you know, “46+127=__,” and the like). When viewing the “Shopping Spree” resource, he sees the new Standards tab next to the now familiar Content, Information, and Comments tabs.
When Roderick clicks on the Standards tab, he can see if there are any existing alignments and if so, to which states and subjects the resource is aligned. In this case, he sees that the resource is already aligned to a California 3rd grade math skill. But Roderick wants to align it to the “Sunshine State Standards.” To do this he selects the “Align to standards” link which is available when logged-in as a member of Curriki.
This link presents Roderick with a list of all 50 states, plus territories and a number of national standards organizations. We will work with our partner over time to keep these all up-to-date and also to populate many more national and international standards frameworks. After Roderick selects his state, he has the option to align to three different sets of standards in Florida (each state is different in this regard):
- Next Generation Sunshine State Standards
- Sunshine State Standards
- Sunshine State Standards with Grade Level Expectations
His school is using the Next Generation Standards, so he selects that option, then Math (2007). After selecting the appropriate grade level, he is presented with a tree of the standards (“Big Ideas” in Florida) and benchmarks for math at that grade level. He chooses any standards or benchmarks that match the resource by clicking the checkboxes.
After clicking Save, this resource is now aligned to the Florida standards and can be found by any other Florida teacher looking for elementary math resources, or by teachers in other states or countries looking for math activities involving two-digit addition. Each alignment is recorded in the alignment history, so all can see who has aligned this resource or edited an existing alignment. In this way, the community can manage and improve this information over time.
A next phase of development for the Standards tab, once we have a lot of alignments to work with, is to enable automated suggestions for alignments in other states based on an existing alignment. So once aligned to California, Roderick would not have to click all the way down to the Florida skill in question; the system would suggest it directly. Until then, simply being able to easily browse through a framework tree to select alignments will reinforce and help teachers better understand their state’s official view of what is to be learned at what level.
Chief Technology Officer