NCPA Content and Performance Standards
CONTENT AND PERFORMANCE STANDARDS
At NCPA, our curriculum standards represent an overview of essential school learning for all students. Standards are broad statements of what students should know and be able to do. Different types of standards address various aspects important to learning.
Content standards cover what students are to learn in various subject areas, such as mathematics and science. Each discipline has identified a core of learning outcomes desired for all students.
PERFORMANCE STANDARDS OR BENCHMARKS
Performance standards or benchmarks are developmentally appropriate components of content standards. They are written for each grade and state the knowledge and skills to be acquired by the end of that grade or group of grades. Benchmarks are the knowledge and skills that teachers can assess, and on which student learning progress can be reported. While the ultimate learning goal for students is to attain deep understandings of the issues and content they study, we recognize that understanding itself is difficult to measure and we depend on the measures of knowledge and skills combined with student reflection or ultimate performance.
GUARANTEED AND VIABLE CURRICULUM
A guaranteed curriculum means that we provide the opportunity and support for all students to learn what we have identified as core learning outcomes. Viable means we have identified that which is actually able to be achieved within the time frame of students’ 7-12 journey here at NCPA. We provide learning extension for all students ready and able to exceed the general curriculum, but we organize so that we can ensure all students make adequate progress in the guaranteed curriculum.
In order to ensure the curriculum is guaranteed, viable, and relevant to students' lives, teachers review the benchmarks on a continuous basis and use them to design instruction (and when appropriate-remediation or extension) for students.
NCPA teachers develop unit plans aligned with the standards and grade level benchmarks. Unit plans are documents for teacher use that outline the specific content, skills, assessments and resources used in classrooms. We organize these standards, benchmarks, and instructional units in the resource tool of Rubicon Atlas.
What is Not Covered by Standards?
(Adopted from Common Core Standards, 2011)
Standards should be recognized for what they are not as well as for what they are. The most important intentional design limitations are as follows:
- Standards define what all students are expected to know and be able to do, not how teachers should teach. Standards make references to some particular forms of content, they do not – indeed cannot - enumerate all or even most of the content that students should learn. Standards must therefore be complemented by a well-developed, content-rich curriculum.
- While Standards focus on what is most essential, they do not describe all that can be taught. A great deal is left to the discretion of teachers. The aim of Standards is to articulate the fundamentals, not to set out an exhaustive list or a set of restrictions that limits what can be taught beyond what is specified.
- Standards do not define the nature of advanced work for students who meet standards prior to the end of high school. NCPA graduates are expected to meet the AP learning objectives for each course in which they are enrolled.
- Standards set grade-specific standards but do not define the intervention methods or materials necessary to support students who are well below or well above grade-level expectations. No set of grade-specific standards can fully reflect the great variety in abilities, needs, learning rates, and achievement levels of students in any given classroom. Standards should also be read as allowing for the widest possible range of students to participate fully from the outset and as permitting appropriate accommodations to ensure maximum participation of students with special education needs.
- It is beyond the scope of Standards to define the full range of supports appropriate for English language learners and for students with special needs. At the same time, all students must have the opportunity to learn and meet the same high standards if they are to access the knowledge and skills necessary in their post-high school lives.
- Students require a wide-ranging, rigorous academic preparation and attention to such matters as social, emotional, and physical development and approaches to learning.