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Standards represent benchmarks for school achievement. In particular, content standards specify the subject matter that students are expected to learn. Performance standards identify the levels of proficiency that students are to meet in mastering particular skills. Opportunity-to-learn standards define the levels of available resources (such as school staff and instructional programs) that are required for students to learn appropriate content and skills. Overall, standards have been central to educational policy for more than two decades, especially at the national level. The standards movement has also played a pivotal role in the rise of school accountability and high-stakes testing. Moreover, standards are important because they exemplify key traditions in public education.

This entry is divided into three parts. Part one focuses on today's standards movement by tracing ...

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