THE FORUM


Introduction to the Sunshine State Standards

The Sunshine State Standards identify what Florida public school students should know and be able to do during each of four grade clusters that represent developmental levels: PreK-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12. They describe the student achievement that the state will hold schools accountable for students' learning in the subject areas of language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, music, visual arts, theatre, dance, health, physical education, and foreign languages.

Organization of the Standards

The Sunshine State Standards will affect many aspects of schooling in Florida. The curriculum and instruction--what teachers teach and how they teach it--must be organized around these standards. The state will be assessing reading, writing, and mathematics based on the standards. At the local level, once the state standards have been implemented, then classroom tests should be geared to those standards. Finally, the systems used to report student progess--report cards and transcripts--should have a clear relationship to the standards. in short, the standards should be the starting point for much that is done within Florida's educational system. The Sunshine State Standards are organized as follows:

Strand = label (word or short phrase) for a category of knowledge, such as reading, writing, measurement, economics, nature of matter.

Standard = general statement of expected learner achievement within the strand.

Benchmark = learner expectations (what a student should know and be able to do to achieve this standard) at the end of the developmental levels of grades PreK-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12.
A strand is the most general type of information. A strand is a short label for a category of knowledge under which standards are subsumed. This helps organize the vast amount of information to be learned in a subject area. Each of the strands contains one or more standards. A standard is a description of general expectations regarding knowledge and skill development within a strand. The most specific level of information is the benchmark. A benchmark is a statement of expectations about student knowledge and skill at the end of one of four developmental levels: grades PreK-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. Benchmarks translate the general standards into expectations at different levels of student development. Within a standard, one would expect high school students to be perfoming differently from primary students. The benchmarks describe these differing levels of expectations.

It is expected that several benchmarks might often be combined into a single teaching or assessment activity. The listing of separate benchmarks does not mean that students must demonstrate achievement of them one at a time.

Expectations of student knowledge and skills are described in the standards, but the standards are also written with some assumptions regarding student learning. Although the knowledge and skills stated at an earlier level of schooling might not be repeated in the benchmarks at later levels, they remain important and should be reinforced and even re-taught, if necessary. It is also assumed that in meeting the expectations described in these benchmarks, students are working with material that is appropriate with regard to their ages, developmental levels, and grade levels.

For easy reference, the table of standards and benchmarks uses an identification system that mirrors the structure of the standards' organization. Each strand, standard, and benchmark has been assigned a unique identification code.

The Sunshine State Standards identify the essential knowledge and skills that students should learn and for which the state will hold schools accountable. Nevertheless, how the standards and benchmarks are organized within a specific curriculum, how they are taught within learning activities, what instructional strategies and materials are used to teach them, how much time is spent teaching them, and when they are taught within the developmental levels are local decisions.


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