Identifying Essential Standards
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Microcredential ID : 2683
PLCs: Essential Standards
0.5 USBE Credit

This microcredential represents educators' work as a member of a PLC to identify essential standards. Identifying essential standards of a subject is the foundation for the first question of DuFour's PLC essential questions, which is "What do we expect our students to learn?" Developing common outcomes for a class is a process vital to a PLC. If we want all students to learn, we have to decide what they should learn. The PLC process depends on a deep understanding of what students will know and be able to do as a result of our teaching. By prioritizing certain standards over others, teachers gain clarity about what they will teach and can be more efficient in their planning and more in-depth in their instruction. Once teachers have determined their essential standards, they can create learning targets and then translate those targets.
How To Earn This Microcredential
To earn this 0.5 credit microcredential you will submit two different types of evidence from the list below to demonstrate your consistent and effective identification of essential standards. You will also complete a written or video reflective analysis. Click Earn This Microcredential to learn more.
If you submit this microcredential for review, you will be assessed an administrative fee of $20.00.
Identfying essentials is not listing the state's core standards. Essentials are distinguished from "nice to knows" based on teacher's expertise in determining what it is students must learn. Essential standards are not all that a teacher teaches, instead they are the minimum a student must know or be able to do to be considered proficient.
Important Terms
Essential Standards: what teachers guarantee all students will know and be able to do by the end of the year

Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum: what all students will learn in the timeline of the class

Rigor: what will it look like if a student is proficient

PLC: Professional Learning Community
Background Scenario / How This Will Help You
Mrs. Jones, a kindergarten teacher at Lakewood Elementary School, is preparing for the school year. She has met her new students while administering a kindergarten assessment, and she knows that they have different levels of proficiency in phonemic awareness and alphabetic knowledge. She looks at her state's core standards for kindergarten and also for first grade to determine what they will be expected to do the following year.
For English Language Arts, there are many standards related to reading. Looking at the standards related to Reading Foundational skills, she determines that the culmination of many of the skills is isolating and pronouncing the initial, medial vowel, and final sounds (phonemes) in three-phoneme (consonant-vowel-consonant, or CVC) words. She decides that she must be able to guarantee that all kindergarteners will be able to read cvc words by the end of the school year in order to be ready for the learning that will be expected in first grade. To clearly communicate this essential learning with children and their families, she converts it to an "I can" statement that she puts on the children's goal setting cards: "I can read cvc words." This way students will be able to track their progress to this goal.
Now, she is ready to map out the rest of her curriculum related to reading foundational skills.
Evidence Options
Category: Preparation and Planning
Select ONE of the evidence options below to demonstrate your preparation and planning resulting from PLC participation.
Unit Plan: Submit a unit plan you have used in your instruction that has essential learning identified and learning targets that are provided. This unit plan should outline how that essential skill or knowledge will be achieved throughout that unit. In a separate section of the lesson plan, include citations for research supporting your instructional approach. (See the resources section for examples to cite.)
Category: Implementation
Select ONE of the evidence options below to demonstrate your effective implementation of PLC learning standards analysis.
Video: Submit a 5-8 minute video of and your PLC working to identify essential standards. This video should include group discussion of the following: (1) What defines what an essential standard is versus a nice to know. (2) Description of the standard you have determined to be essential for a specific subject (3) Discussion of how to determine this standard and how this standard is necessary for the student to be successful in the following class or year. Be sure to follow your district/charter guidelines for student privacy.
Other: Complete Mike Mattos's Essential Standards chart with your PLC. (See the Resources section for this chart.) Answer "What is it we expect students to learn?" Provide standard description, examples of rigor, prerequisite skills, common assessment information, a timeline for teaching, and extension activities.

Review Criteria
Criterion 1: The evidence indicates a clear understanding of the difference between determining essential standards from "nice to know" standards.
Criterion 2: The evidence indicates that the teacher is aware of the importance of distinguishing what it is students will be guaranteed to learn within the timeline of the class.
Criterion 3: The evidence indicates that the teacher knows what students are expected to do todemonstrate understanding of that specific essential standard.
Reflection Prompts
Describe how you distinguish essential standards from "nice to knows".
Give a specific example of an essential standard you chose and the thought process behind determining it as essential.
Explain how knowing the essential standards of your curriculum will effect your teaching and planning. Express how your students benefit from your identification of essentials

Review Criteria
Criterion 1: Reflection explains the process and criteria the teacher used to identify essential standards from the nice to knows.
Criterion 2: Reflection gives a specific example of an essential standard the teacher has shown and justifies why it is essential.
Criterion 3: Reflection explains how knowing essentials standards will impact their teaching, planning and students.
Taking Action: A Handbook for RTI at Work by Austin Buffum
This book is a guide for implementing Response to Intervention (RTI) in schools in order to increase student learning. Chapter 3 is particularly relevant for this badge. Reproducibles include an Essential Standards Chart and Criteria for Selecting Essential Standards. Pages 79-87 include information on identifying essential standards and creating a learning progression. pages 90-93 describe how to create an essential standard unit plan.

Learning by Doing: A Handbook for Professional Learning Communities at Work by Richard DuFour, Rebecca DuFour, Robert Eaker, Thomas W. Many, and Mike Mattos
This book systematically looks at the PLC process and shows how schools turn their knowledge into action. By looking at the experiences of real schools going through the PLC process, the authors are able to offer practical advice and guidance.

YouTube Video: Mike Mattos on how to get insanely clear about learning outcomes and learning objectives
This video explains how teachers can collaboratively determine which standards to teach as a way to guide their team meetings, teaching, assessments, and interventions.

Identifying Essential Standards--All Things PLC .pdf
This pdf explains how essential standards fit into the PLC process and why the process of developing essential standards is valuable.

It's About Time: Planning Interventions and Extensions in Elementary School by Austin Buffum and Mike Mattos
This book offers practical suggest to ensure that all students can access essential curriculum in elementary school.

It's About Time: Planning Interventions and Extensions in Secondary School by Mike Mattos and Austin Buffum
This book offers practical suggest to ensure that all students can access essential curriculum in secondary school.

Mike Mattos's Essential Standards Chart
Essential standards chart that can be completed as one of the evidence options.
Kelland Davis

Kelland Davis
Devin Goddard

Devin Goddard
Judy Williams

Judy Williams
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