Teachers are expected to cover more now, than ever before; at least that is how it often appears. As such, there are various standards that must be met in all areas of education so that one can demonstrate that the student is obtaining the necessary knowledge for their grade level and that the teacher is maximizing his or her own effectiveness. Naturally tests have been put in place for students to prove just how much they have learned and where they should be headed.
With so much required of teachers out in the world today, it would only be natural that standard documents have emerged to help keep teachers and students on the right path and up to date. For example there is an overview of the academic standards for the state of PA. This Summary of Performance Standards (PA Board of Education, 2011) is four pages long and quite easy to navigate as everything falls under a specific heading. Organized via content area, there are not really standards listed as objectives but rather as requirements demonstrating what must be met to stay in good standards.
The PA Dept of Education has also put forth more specific instructions by grade level and subject matter. Academic Standards for Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking. Elementary K- 3 (PA Dept of Education, 2011) is very detailed and goes into both the levels of needs as well as the information that students are required to achieve in the above listed subjects. Also easy to navigate, the document of 20 pages includes a table of contents so that everything can be located in a snap. With easy to follow information, this particular source makes every objective quite clear.
Finally, and also from the PA Dept of Education the Academic Standards for Mathematics. Elementary K-3 has also been published (PA Dept of Education, 2010). Once again, this is an easy to navigate document as it has clear headings, glossary, and table of content. This 30 page document sets forth everything that students are responsible for in regards to mathematics from the time they enter public school until the third grade.
Now, all of the previously mentioned documents, as well as numerous others, have clearly been in regards to educational performance standards in the state of Pennsylvania. Still, there are other connections that are not so easily distinguished.
As already mentioned all of the documents are illustrating various educational standards. They are also all available in pdf format for easy access, download, and print. Additionally, however, they also all deal with more than one specific grade level. This is extremely useful because a teacher can use one document for several years and reasons; it seriously cuts back on research time rather than having to find a separate document for each grade. They all also show a tentative future scale of where education should be headed in the event that the proper goals are achieved in due course.
Still, all of the documents are quite different in various ways. The Summary of PA Performance Standards is a broad overview for the educational system at large. The Academic Standards for Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking, Elementary K- 3, on the other hand, focuses more specifically on those areas listed within its title; being more thorough in its explanations of what is required of each student for each subject. So too, the Academic Standards for Mathematics, Elementary K-3 is the same way in that it specialized on in the math requirements for early childhood education. By having these broken down into different sections teachers can identify exactly what they are looking for without being swamped by superfluous information.
All of these documents support the educational process simply by providing information and knowledge to the teachers. If educators were unsure of what they were supposed to be teaching, the students would not be able to learn what they needed to learn, and the schools would all receive poor test scores; which would be a violation, not only to PA educational requirements but also federal laws as set for by the No Child Left Behind Act of the Bush Administration (No Child Left Behind, 2004). Ultimately, schools would be put on probation and receive ever increasing penalties, potentially even losing their accreditation. These unending cycles would virtually halt the educational process and so these documents help to bridge the gap so that teachers have the tools they need to succeed.
So, these documents are useful to teachers in that they, (1) explain the standards and goals for which a teacher is striving to reach. Additionally, (2) they set forth a time line for an educator so that he, or she, will know that she has X amount of time to cover Y amount of material, and can so plan accordingly. Finally, (3) there is a sense of confidence that can be added so that teachers know that all their students are, supposedly, on the same level when they transition from grade to grade. This will help make sure that all teachers across the state, and the nation, are on the same page.