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Intersection of Standards and Competencies

Intersection of Standards and Competencies


In this lesson you will analyze the connection between standards and competencies in instruction

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Source: Globe, Clker,; Stick Figure, Clker,

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Hello everyone and welcome. The name of this lesson is Intersection of Standards and Competencies. And in it we'll be looking at the relationship between standards, competencies, and objectives. And we'll be doing this through the lens of a fifth grade example. Thanks for joining us, let's get started.

As you will see in this video, standards and competencies go hand in hand. Generally speaking standards tell us the knowledge and skills that students should have by the end of the school year. And competencies outline what a student should be able to do as they progress toward meeting those standards. In the example, you will note that standards are more broad and competencies tend to be more specific. When it comes to the relationship between standards and objectives, again, standards are much broader. Although both address content and skills, objectives do so at the lesson level and include both the content and the skills. That's different from competencies that focus on concrete measurable skills only.

In order to gain a better understanding of how these elements are aligned and related it's important to define the terms we'll be using. So let's go ahead and do that. When we discuss standards there are really two main types to consider. First, content standards that tell us what students are expected to know by the end of the year. And practice standards, that tell us what students should be able to do by the end of the year. Both are written as grade levels or spans. For example, in the sea CCSS, Common Core State Standards, for reading, they're by grade level, until you get to grade nine, and then they're written as spans from 9 to 10, and 11 through 12. Please note that is the ISTE Standards are common to all grades and not broken down by each level.

Skills and competencies are smaller, more specific, and discrete. There are skills that students are able to do connected to the lesson's objectives. These skills are based on and measured not by the end of the year targets, but rather smaller units of time. Both content and ISTE Standards can be used to develop these competencies. ISTE Standards are unique in that many are already written as practice standards, making them easily translatable into skills. Finally, we have the objectives and targets which are built from the standards and competencies for an individual lesson or unit of study, and include both content and skills.

Here's another way of looking at how these terms are related. We have our standards that tell us what students need to know and be able to do by the end of the year. Our skills and competencies are really just smaller chunks taken from the standards. Any standard, be it ELA, math, history, science, foreign language, or ISTE. Those skills and competencies are then broken up into individual objectives or targets based on lessons and units that the students participate in.

Let's go ahead and build a fifth grade example. I've taken this from the Common Core State Standards for ELA Literacy 5.6. Analyze multiple accounts of the same event or topic, noting important similarities and differences in the point of view they represent. The ISTE standard I've chosen to connect with this is a Standard 3, research and information fluency. Specifically, students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information.

Now let's go down to the skills and competencies students need to accomplish these standards. Students to learn about similarities and differences. They have to learn about point of view. And they need to know how to access digital tools. How are we going to get them to do that? Through our objectives and targets.

Here are some examples of lessons and/or units that might accomplish these goals. You could have students compare and contrast indoor and outdoor recess. You can have students read the book called The Pain In the Great One by Judy Blume, which is written from two character's points of view. You can have students debate the pros and cons of wearing school uniforms. And finally, you can have children practice their research skills by using a website called to learn about a president.

Let's go ahead and summarize we covered in today's lesson. We began by defining the terms for standards, both practice and content. We looked at skills and competencies. And we also looked at objectives and targets. Next, we looked at an overall picture of how the structure is related. And finally, we built an example using fifth grade Common Core State Standard.

As you think back to this lesson, reflect on how the information in this video will impact the way you think about planning lessons and units. To dive a little deeper and learn how to apply this information, be sure to check out the additional resources section associated with this video. This is where you'll find links targeted toward helping you discover more ways to apply this course material. Thanks for watching everyone, and have a great day.

Notes on "Intersection of Standards and Competencies"

(00:00-00:18) Intro

(00:19-01:01) The Big Picture

(01:02-02:27) Defining the Terms

(02:28-03:00) Overall View

(03:01-04:17) Grade 5 Example

(04:18-05:14) Summary/Food For Thought

Additional Resources

Creating Coherence Common Core State Standards, Teacher Evaluation, and Professional Learning

This report from the Center for Great Teachers and Learners helps see the intersection between teacher standards and students standards in the classroom. In particular, review the four steps to aligning the professional practices of the district with the instructional shifts and practice standards of the CCSS. This document uses Danielson and Marzano frameworks to illustrate the process.


Competency Works: Learning from the Cutting Edge

This site is a comprehensive website on teaching and learning using competency based instruction. The article, What is the Difference between Standards-Based Grading (or Reporting) and Competency-Based Education? connects and differentiates between Competency Based Education and Standards Based Instruction when grading and reporting. This article is based upon the work of a school district in Iowa. You may want to explore the other sections of this website for resources connected to Competency Based Education.