Twenty-five years ago, following release of A Nation at Risk, Governors from across the country concluded that we needed to raise our academic standards. Lamar Alexander (TN) and Bill Clinton (AR) led the charge. StandardsWork was an early leader in the standards movement—and we’ve dedicated ourselves to working for a better standard of practice ever since.
For many years, we focused on the quality and rigor of standards (what students should know and be able to do); over time we moved to how states, districts, schools, and teachers could better implement them.
The work included advocating for practices we believed were central to improving teaching and learning, including data analysis to identify who was learning (and not) and the importance of a knowledge-rich curriculum for all kids. We always promoted “best-practices”—what we now call “proven practices” because they’re bolstered by research to validate what works.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) opens a new era, where states will again be challenged to harness all we’ve learned about what it takes to improve teaching and learning. We know that more research will be imperative, but also that there is enormous energy and good work in the field that deserves recognition and adoption.
We call ourselves a “do tank”, with a focus on identifying high-impact levers that produce academic improvements and providing tools to make the process easier to understand and execute.
StandardsWork focuses on three core areas that we believe need elevation—both in conversation and in practice.
- the vital role curriculum plays in delivering content and in teaching skills,
- the importance of building deep background knowledge in students; and
- the “octane” that specific evidence-based instructional practices can provide.
We applaud the great work of many organizations that have committed to critically examining and improving practice over the past 25 years. Our goal is to amplify your work and to connect the dots of your good efforts around the three core beliefs—that Curriculum Counts, Knowledge Matters, and Proven Practices Deliver.