Minnesota Parental Information and Resource Center (MN PIRC)
What are academic standards? Standards are learning goals that define what students are required to learn in a given subject area. In Minnesota, there are statewide K-12 standards in language arts (including reading), mathematics, science, social studies and the arts that each student must complete. Districts use their own local standards in health and physical education, world languages, and career and technical education. In the arts, districts can use the state standards or they can use their own.
Each standard has one or more benchmark. The benchmarks identify the specific knowledge and skills that students must learn in order to meet a standard. In most subjects, the benchmarks are grade-level specific. High school benchmarks, however, often cover more than one grade.
The standards may seem confusing at first, but it's important for you to know whether your child is meeting Minnesota's academic standards. Why? Because state tests and credits earned in each subject are based on the standards. By doing well on the standards, your child will be prepared to meet the state graduation requirements.
More importantly, your child will have mastered the knowledge and skills necessary for "college- and career-readiness." College-ready means that your child is prepared for college or university courses without the need for remedial college courses that repeat the concepts students received in high school. Career-ready means that your child is prepared to begin a career that pays a living wage, provides benefits, and offers clear pathways for advancement through further education and training. The skills and knowledge necessary to be college-ready are nearly identical to those that define career-readiness.
How can you know if your child is meeting the standards? The grades on your child's report card usually are a good indicator. Public school curriculum is based on the standards. The curriculum outlines how the school will help students learn and increase their knowledge and skills in the standards. It tells you what topics will be taught at what grade level and how the topics will be taught. The curriculum also includes information on how schools will test students' knowledge and skills as well as strategies for meeting individual student needs.
Another way to check your child's progress on the standards is to look at your child's scores on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments. These state tests are based on the Minnesota Academic Standards and her score can give you an idea of how he or she is doing overall.
Ask your child's teacher to review the curriculum with you if you have questions about the standards, state testing, or your child's progress toward high school graduation.