According to the U.S. Department of Defense and Education Activity Website, Standards-based education is a process for planning, delivering, monitoring and improving academic programs in which clearly defined academic content standards provide the basis for content in instruction and assessment. There are two points that are made in support of standards-based education: 1. Standards help ensure students learn what is important, rather than allowing textbooks to dictate classroom practice. 2. Student learning is the focus – aiming for a high and deep level of student understanding that goes beyond traditional textbook-based or lesson-based instruction. (URL) http://www.amdodea.edu/ddessasc/aboutddess/standards/standardsbased.html. The Texas Essential Skills and Knowledge outline the set of standards in each course that students should learn in Texas. It is overwhelming at times in many courses to look at the daunting list of things that students must master in any given course. There are many, and students are responsible for knowing them all. TEA provides teachers the standards for each course; however, the biggest question for teachers is “What is the best way to accommodate each student’s individual learning needs while simultaneously teaching the same standards for everyone?” (Voltz, Sims, and Nelson Connecting Teachers, Students and Standards. 2010 ASCD. Pg. ix). There are a number of different variables that influence the learning retained in students. The methods, materials, environment, content, collaboration, and assessment help define the elements of instruction in a Standards Based Classroom. Parents, you should be able to ask your child what they learned in class and receive an explanation. Many times this question is posed to my own children and the banter is somewhere between “I don’t know” to “we learned math (or some other subject).” This is understandable. Students have a difficult time truly articulating what is happening in the class because the goals are sometimes very ambiguous or truly hard to define. This is no fault of the teacher, but the task of the teacher to make the state standards something that students can understand and apply in their own lives. The Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills are like reading an Agatha Christie novel for most people. Finding truly engaging lessons to provide clarity on what the true purpose and explanation of the state standards is the biggest and most difficult job for teachers. Being able to provide meaningful instruction that provides successful results is the goal. We know the standards. We even know exactly which standards will be on the new STAAR exam. Believe it or not, not all of them will be assessed. We know this! However, students truly will have to know the content instead of memorize some facts. It is easy to tell parents that students learned that Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492, but it is more difficult to “describe how individuals, including Daniel Boone, Christopher Columbus, the Founding Fathers and Juan de Onate, have contributed to the expansion of existing communities or to the creation of new communities.” This is a 3rd grade social studies standard. By working together, we can truly challenge our students and provide them the skills to master the standards.