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Standards, Competencies, and Objectives

Standards, Competencies, and Objectives

Author: Trisha Fyfe

In this lesson, you will learn about the hierarchy of instruction planning, from standards to competencies to unit objectives.

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Welcome. I'm Trisha Fyfe. And today I'm going to be exploring the topic "Standards, Competencies, and Objectives" throughout this video lesson.

As we learn about the topic, we will work toward several learning objectives. Together, we will answer the following questions. What are standards, competencies, and unit objectives? And how are these three elements connected together in planning for instruction?

Let's start out by discussing standards. What are standards? As teachers, it's essential to have a thorough understanding of standards, which are those broad goals that must be developed.

What should students be learning? And what are we, as teachers, responsible for teaching our students? Of course, these look different for each grade level, subject, school, state, and even group of students.

There are two types of standards. Content-- what content should our learners learn? And process-- what are the standards in how to go about teaching this content? What should our process be?

A content standard might be learn all the capitals of 50 states or write a five paragraph essay. Process standards might be to work in a group and collaborate with others or use multiple methods to represent work.

Standards come from many sources. Not only are there published national standards, such as the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics or the National Council for Teachers of English, but there are state standards-- Common Core State Standards.

There are also international standards that have been published, such as the International Society for Technology in Education, which has both student and teacher standards. The student standards can be used to determine the knowledge and skills students need to thrive in the digital world. For the teacher, the teacher standards are designed to help teachers teach these important skills for the digital world.

Competencies are what students should be able to demonstrate-- more long term after that initial learning takes place. These are smaller ideas related to a larger learning goal, such as the standard. We will discuss some specific examples later in this video lesson.

Unit objectives are what students should be able to do at the end of a unit. These help support both the standards and the competencies. As a teacher that is planning, you can use questions like, "What do I want my students to be able to do at the end of a unit?"

SMART goals can be used in creating unit objectives. The acronym for SMART includes planning goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

Before I give you examples of what standards, competencies, and objectives look like, let's discuss the connections between all three of these. Standards are the broad goals that the student must meet. Competencies are the skills students should develop after the learning takes place. These are evident well after learning and support the standards identified. Unit objectives are just pieces of learning that come from the developed short-term units. They support the standards and the competencies that you've identified.

Let's make some deeper connections with these. First, we'll compare standards and competencies. These two are connected very closely as they both outline important ideas for students. Standards outline key knowledge and skills that students should have at the end after completion of many units and assessing the end of the year, perhaps.

And competencies measure what should be seen throughout the entire process. As the students are working toward the standards, what should they be able to do? For example, at the end of the year, students should be able to write a compare and contrast essay. This might be the standard. As they're working towards this, they should be able to make compare and contrast statements about ideas. This might be a competency.

Now we'll talk about standards and objectives. We've already discussed that standards outline key knowledge and skills students should have at the end of the year. These are broad-- much more so than an objective. An objective looks at the key skills and knowledge at the lesson level.

For example, in this lesson students will differentiate between similarities and differences by listing these in a T-chart after reading passages. This might be an objective. The standard is still at the end of the year, students should be able to write a compare and contrast essay.

The last connection we'll make is between objectives and competencies. These both address the content. And they both address the skills needed and looked for. Competencies are the actual skills that students learn from all of this knowledge. Objectives are the content and skills combined into a goal.

For example, the competency might be that students will be able to compare and contrast statements about ideas. This applies to more than just the lesson but also to real life. An objective for a lesson working towards this standard might be, "In this lesson students will differentiate between similarities and differences by listing these in a T-chart after reading passages."

Let's go over some examples of all three of these. We will use a sample unit where students research and create a report about the similarities and differences of Earth and another planet that they choose. The standards for this unit might be these two Common Core State Standards listed, which are English Language Arts for grade three-- Literacy 3.7, and Literacy 3.8, which are to conduct short research projects that build knowledge and recall information from experiences or gather information from different sources.

The competencies are to compare and contrast different concepts and use knowledge to formulate facts and opinions. So notice that these are skills that the students should be able to use well after the learning takes place in this unit. The unit objectives are, "after completing this unit, students will be able to use graphs, charts, or diagrams to display data and also write a basic written report of knowledge learned."

Remember, this is what the students should do at the end of the unit. And they support both the standards, which are conducting research projects and recalling information or gathering information, and also taking notes on this information, which would be using the graphs and chart and also writing a basic written report.

And they also connect to the competencies-- comparing and contrasting and using knowledge to formulate facts and opinions. This would be evident in both the graphs, charts, and diagrams, as well as the written report. All of these connect together.

It's also important to apply these ideas to the one-on-one environment in the classroom setting. In a one-on-one environment, students might be working in a self-paced manner. And teachers can use tools that help with differentiating, such as the rotation model where students are using stations, the workshop model, which involves group time, or a warm-up and a mini-lesson, followed by independent work time, and then back to more group time for shared learning are great models that are supported here.

Self-paced online learning systems can also be used. Teachers can use tools online to promote self-pacing and form digital assessment opportunities-- tools like Google Classroom, Schoolology, Learnzillion, Mastery Connect, and TenMarks are all great tools. And the websites are listed here.

Let's talk about what we learned today. We looked at the following questions. What are standards, competencies, and unit objectives? And how are all three of these elements connected together in planning for instruction?

We explored in detail standards, competencies, and unit objectives and how all three of these are connected and intertwined together. I gave you examples of each of these in a sample unit. And we talked about how to bring technology into your instructional planning for standards, competencies, and objectives.

Now that you're familiar with standards, competencies, and unit objectives, and all of the benefits of using these, let's reflect. What is something new that you learned about today about standards, competencies, and unit objectives? Who can collaborate with to better your understanding and use of these three elements?

Thanks for joining me today in discussing the lesson Standards, Competencies, and Unit Objectives. I hope you found value in this video lesson and are able to apply these ideas about these three important components of your teaching into your own classroom.

Now it's your turn to apply what you've learned in this video. The additional resources section will be super-helpful. This section is designed to help you discover useful ways to apply what you've learned here. Each link includes a brief description so you can easily target the resources you want.

Notes on “Standards, Competencies, and Objectives”


(00:00- 00:25) Introduction/Objectives

(00:26- 01:54) What are Standards?

(01:55- 02:10) What are Competencies?  

(02:11- 02:41) What are Unit Objectives?

(02:42- 05:04) Connections Between Standards, Competencies and Objectives

(05:05- 06:32) Sample Unit and Standards, Competencies and Objectives

(06:33- 07:17) 1:1 Environments

(07:18- 07:47) Recap

(07:48- 08:35) Reflection  

Additional Resources

ISTE Standards: Students

The student standards include the six key areas for students' appropriate use of technology in their learning: creativity and innovation, communication and collaboration, research and informational fluency, critical thinking, problem solving and decision making, digital citizenship, and technology operations and concepts.

ISTE: Standards for Teachers

The teacher standards include the five key areas for teachers' appropriate use of technology in their teaching: Facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity, design and develop digital age learning experiences and assessments, model digital age work and learning, promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility, and engage in professional growth and leadership.

Common Core State Standards

This is the official website for the Common Core ELA and Math Standards. This web site is an easy to navigate portal that includes the ELA Anchor Standards, Standards by Grade, Literacy Standards for History and Social Studies, Literacy Standards for Science and Technical Subjects, Math Practice Standards, and Math Standards by Grade. The site also provides the appendices to the standards, which include student work samples, suggested texts, implementation guidance, and instructional strategies.

Competency Works

This is a comprehensive website that examines competency based education and provides great resources for teachers. The link provided is a useful resource for teachers interested in understanding the what and whys of competency based education. To develop a deeper understanding of CBE, click on the link that brings you to an extended definition of CBE.