As teachers and administrators look to the 2020/2021 school year, they are "expressing concern over student learning gaps due to the distance learning environment forced on educators by the COVID-19 pandemic." This statement, expressed by Kyra Donovan, of The International Center for Leadership in Education means that states are re-examining their educational standards to determine what the minimum, essential standards are for student success. They have identified several criteria that meets these minimum standards: "readiness" to move to the next level of learning, "endurance" of learning to last beyond the specific grade level, "leverage" of learning to crossover into other content areas and "alignment" to external exams. With these criteria in mind, it is useful to look at how several states are determining what their minimum standards should be.
Illinois has identified their minimum standards as: "the most foundational/essential knowledge, skills and competencies for all students; the most critical standards for continued learning success at subsequent grade levels; and those standards best suited for interdisciplinary and/or project-based learning." These clearly meet the criteria outlined above.
Many states are also following the criteria listed, noting the potential knowledge gaps for incoming students. Kentucky is drafting an adjusted curriculum to prioritize those minimum standards for all students. Kansas has included a shift from "reliance on seat time" to a focus on mastery of essential skills. Both Oregon and Washington States have moved to offering credits based on mastery of basic skills within specific disciplines. Ohio has identified three categories for their standards: critical & feasible; recommended and enrichment.
The first category includes minimum standards addressing foundational needs. The second category looks at important skills for school readiness, and the third category are standards, which can only be included if feasible.
There is no question that COVID-19 has disrupted everyone's lives in profound ways, but the various states of this country are making admirable efforts to continue to meet the needs of all students even in these uncertain times.
By: Nancy Rubesch