Power Standards

Our district is currently working through a process using what are known as Power Standards to align our K-12 English curriculum and to facilitate a conversation horizontally as well as vertically during the alignment. I think we entered the process believing that this was essentially a scope and sequence conversation among grade levels but now are convinced it’s more about assessment than alignment. Grrrr.

At its heart the idea of Power Standards seems to be a sound one. We take the state’s essential learnings for reading and decide which ones will be a focus at each grade level. Of course, each standard must be assessed and no one objects to this. Where the difficulty lies is what the assessments should look like.

The teachers want to use authentic assessments like the paragraphs, papers, speeches, and the like that we use in the classroom while the district wants state test-like assessments which can be entered into a data matrix, a chart. We’re told the data and assessments are for us, so we want to use what we already do in the classroom since these are common and fuel our conversations already. Simply adding assessments for which we already have data seems redundant.

However, if we’re told how the assessments are to look and how they will be used, are they really ours? This is the question with which we are currently wrestling. We meet again in January to work through this impasse.

Is your district working through this process? How is it going?


Off-topic, but I have always thought it odd that we assess reading through writing. Do we think this may skew any of the data?


One thought on “Power Standards

  1. The Science Goddess

    I think the other thing your district might not be considering is validity. It’s all well and good that they might want something WASL-like, but it takes a significant investment of time and money (write, pilot, score…) in order to get to a point where what you put in the matrix means anything. It is a far better use of resources for the district to invest in supporting teachers who know how to construct good (at least “good enough”) measures of learning and use those to drive instruction. If they do that, the big test will take care of itself. Focus on instruction.

    As for your “off-topic” question, both “yes” and “no” are the answers. As there are multiple forms that communication can take, only using writing will not give you a significant enough basis for judgment. I used to worry about the fact that there was so much writing required on the state science test—but with some statistical modeling using student scores, we were actually able to show that writing was not a significant factor. Neither was the reading required by the test. It actually does just measure science. The big official reading test may well be the same. Your district data guru should be able to check on this for you.


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