Standards VS Learning Targets…Interesting!

The Pennsylvania Department of Education has stated on their SAS website that “Pennsylvania Standards describe what students should know and be able to do; they increase in complexity and sophistication as students progress through school” (http://www.pdesas.org/Standard/Views).  When one examines the written language linked with the common core standards, it becomes quite apparent that the statements were designed for teachers…not for students and parents.

ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) has stated, on their website (see link below), that learning targets “help the students comprehend what the standards and objectives mean.”  Teachers have been discovering that whenever the objectives, linked with the standards, are reworded as learning targets, the students have better opportunities to understand the goals they must reach in order to move forward with their learning.

In a book written by Connie M. Moss and Susan M. Brookhart, Advancing Formative Assessment in Every Classroom, they state that “the single most important method for routinely sharing learning targets is using assignments that match—really match—the learning goal. It is in the assignment that the teacher translates the learning goal into action for the student. The student will strive to do the assignment, not the abstract goal. When we say an assignment or activity must “embody” the learning goal, we mean that the assignment or activity is such a close match with the goal that the student would be able to think, “If I can do [this assignment], then I can do [the learning objective].”

Learning targets are usually written in “kid friendly” language.  Whenever teachers write the “targets” on the board each day, the students begin to understand the goals related to the lesson, the assignment, and the assessment.

Below is an example of a standard and the learning targets that would be used with the students:

Commonwealth Standard 4.1.5.A – Describe the roles of the producers, consumers, and decomposers within a local ecosystem.

Learning Targets – I (the student) can identify a producer.  I can identify a consumer. I can identify a decomposer. I can organize producers, consumers, and decomposers into a food chain.

Learning Target that demonstrates DOK (depth of knowledge; extending thinking) – I can describe how a change in one population might affect the populations in a food web.

Be sure to read more about this interesting concept linked with how and why students need to understand learning objectives and standards.





(parent friendly – use links on right)


(bulletin board samples)



Originally posted on Donna Hupe’s blog on the Saint Vincent College website.
Opinions and views are her own, and not that of the College.

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