Sunday, October 19, 2014

Colorado State Standards

I have been working on an online learning project involving four modules about fourth grade social studies. I have based my lessons in these modules on the Colorado State standards for 4th grade. The state standards for K-12 curriculum are published by the Colorado Department of Education or CDE. They can be easily found on the CDE website. The fact that I would use state standards to guide my teaching and lessons is a given since every public school and district requires teachers to use them. Documentation from the CDE about state standards first introduces the standards in a straightforward way, i.e. “4th grade history”. Under each standard is the outcome and skills a student needs to master, i.e. “organize and sequence events to understand the concepts of chronology and cause and effect in the history of Colorado”. Then under this outcome and skills are four evidence of outcomes; inquiry questions, relevance and application, and nature of history. There are bullet points under bullet points. And this is only one state standard. Analyzing the state standards got me thinking. Who makes these standards? Why are they written as they are? How do they relate to other state’s standards? I have always assumed the state government somehow created these standards to make sure students learn at their potential and to organize the educational system, even if some of the learning points seemed a bit high for target and a little random. I wasn't too far off on the first part. The CDE website shows the history of the state standards, created in 1993, by a house bill. Then committees were developed and meetings happened to compose the state standard documents in comparison to national and international benchmarks. There is even a Standards and Assessment Task-force and evidence of education-related action taken by the Colorado General Assembly. am glad to know that our tax dollars are hard at work and that the standards I agonize over are not dealt out arbitrarily. Thanks department of education!