Power Standards have been written to guide teachers as they pull together objectives that can be used to design rich, standards-focused project based learning experiences for students as opposed to teaching objectives in isolation. Power Standards represent the “safety net” of objectives every student learns prior to leaving the current grade. Students who acquire this “safety net” of understanding, knowledge and skills will thus exit one grade better prepared for the next grade.
When teachers were first assembled to write power standards, they were asked to review the performance descriptors and the objectives, to take the content represented there, and write power standards which could be used as the basis for designing standards-focused units of study or project-based learning experiences. The teachers were given two questions: What essential understandings and skills do students need? Which objectives can be clustered or incorporated into others?
In our work with teachers we have learned that objectives can be clustered, bundled or chunked in several different ways within a grade level, and each separate grouping provides different types of learning experiences for students. In other words, there is no one correct way to cluster or chunk the objectives in any subject at any grade level. Teachers within a content area can cluster objectives across standards. When teachers from two or more content areas work collaboratively to integrate their content, learning skills and technology tools objectives, the outcome can be very dynamic authentic learning experiences for students.
The Office of Instruction has developed a process for clustering, chunking or bundling to identify critical topics at each grade level in each content area. This process is described in the attached document.
An aligned and balanced assessment system is critical to the success of a standards-focused PBL experience. To assist with the development of an aligned assessment system within each project, we support the identification of learning targets for each objective. We further support the teachers’ understanding of the depth of knowledge measure for each objective. These measures are available for all reading, English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies objectives. Studying the depth of knowledge required in each objective allows the teacher to validate that the student’s learning experiences within the project are designed to develop the expected depth of knowledge for each objective. When building meaningful and relevant 21st century benchmark assessments, teachers must focus on the learning targets within each of the objectives represented by the power standards.