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September 1, 2001
Vol. 59
No. 1

Web Wonders / Making Standards Work

Feeling steamrolled by the standards movement? The challenge of combining required benchmarks with rich learning experiences can overwhelm even the most experienced teacher. Here are some Web sites that will help you consider how to integrate national, state, and local mandates into your curriculums.

Lesson Plans

Getting students prepared for standards-based assessments doesn't mean instruction can't be full of "EDSITEment." This National Endowment for the Humanities site (http://edsitement.neh.gov) lists hundreds of lessons that align with both standards and student interests. Lesson plans cover literature and language, foreign language, art and culture, and history and social studies. Take students on an adventure to study Bamana masks in Africa, for example, or to mull over medieval texts in Europe.
For science teachers, there's Science NetLinks (www.sciencenetlinks.org) from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Lessons are organized by Project 2061 benchmarks, which outline what all students should know in science and mathematics by the end of grades 2, 5, 8, and 12. Creative lesson plans include studying data to decide whether cultural behavior determined who survived the Titanic disaster—and who didn't.
For more lesson plans for all content areas, check out PBS Teacher Source (www.pbs.org/teachersource/search.htm). You can search more than 2,000 lessons by grade, subject, and keyword and then see how the lessons match many U.S. national, state, and district—or Canadian—standards.


Developing students who are competent in science and mathematics requires the support of the entire education system, according to "A Systemic Approach to Standards-Based Learning" (www.enc.org/focus/standards/documents), an article from the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse. The site offers advice to help school personnel manage the process of integrating math and science standards into the district curriculum and classroom instruction.
EL author Matthew Gandal (p. 6) is a vice president of Achieve, a nonprofit organization that supports high standards and rigorous testing. "How High is High Enough?" asks one of Achieve's recent policy briefs (www.achieve.org). At Achieve's site, you can find media coverage of standards and a searchable database of state, national, and international standards in four main content areas.
Of course, not everyone is so sweet on standards. One of the most vocal opponents of the movement is Alfie Kohn (www.alfiekohn.org). Visit this site for Kohn's thoughts on why standards are a "plague" on U.S. schools. The site also provides strategies for coping with standards in the short term and ways to develop an organized opposition to standards that will someday eliminate them from schools.
Have your say on standards at the National Dialogue on Standards-Based Education (www.nationaldialogue.org). This message board enables participants to join one of the 14 different threaded discussions on topics related to standards, such as classroom practice, local control, and information and data management.


For many educators, preparing students for college is a driving factor of the standards push. Standards for Success (www.s4s.org) was created to explore the relationship between high school standards and university admission requirements. Sponsored by Pew Charitable Trusts and the Association of American Universities, the project is meeting with U.S. college professors to outline the skills and knowledge necessary for college success. The project's clearinghouse will then analyze how to translate data from state standards to help universities make decisions about admissions and placement.
The National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (http://cresst96.cse.ucla.edu) is the place to find reports, policy briefs, and a newsletter on K–12 assessments, accountability, and standards.
"Developing and Implementing Academic Standards" (www.pacificresearch.org/issues/edu/standards/standards.html), an online report from Pacific Research Institute's Center for School Reform, tries to answer the question What should a quality standards system look like? The report gives a detailed description of desirable elements for academic content, assessment, performance standards, and implementation and accountability.

Amy Eckman has contributed to Educational Leadership.

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