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The Standards-Based Classroom

The Standards-Based Classroom
Make Learning the Goal

  • Emily Rinkema - Instructional Coach and co-founder of the Vermont Standards-Based Learning Collective
  • Stan Williams - Instructional Coach

Foreword by Ken O'Connor

October 2018 | 168 pages | Corwin

Win big in the standards-based classroom!

Standards-Based Learning (SBL) is NOT standardization. In fact, when we recognize the central purpose of SBL, which is to make learning the goal for all students, we can design systems and structures that are more personal, more flexible, and more engaging—for us and for our students.

At its core, SBL simply asks us to organize our teaching and learning around three questions. These questions guide the creation of targets, the development of assessments, the instructional planning, and the systems to communicate learning.

•            Where do we want our learners to go?
•            How do we know where our learners are in relation to where we want them to go?
•            How do we move them from where they are towards or beyond where we want them to be?

While simple at the core, the transition to a standards-based classroom is anything but. The complexity comes in the implementation, the integration into existing systems, and the difficult task of moving away from what’s most comfortable. The Standards-Based Classroom provides practical strategies and steps based on many years of both failures and successes to support educators during this transition to a standards-based system. The accessible and concrete examples, tools, and templates in the book can be adapted into any classroom. Teachers who are new to SBL will understand the parts, experienced teachers will see the connections to current practices, and all educators will realize the potential SBL has to transform learning.


Chapter 1: Developing K-U-Ds
Chapter 2: Creating Learning Targets
Chapter 3: Building Learning Scales
Chapter 4: Collaborating With Special Educators
Chapter 5: Summatively Assessing Learning
Chapter 6: Formatively Assessing Learnin
Chapter 7: Designing Instruction
Chapter 8: Differentiating by Readiness
Chapter 9: Monitoring and Grading Learning
Chapter 10: Communicating With Families

"This book takes much of the guesswork out of becoming a highly efficient and effective teacher in a standards-based system. The authors have thought deeply about (and explained) many of the 'road block' issues and provide both theory and practice to support teachers doing this work. This system helped me as the instructor and helped my students achieve at the level in which they desire. The Standards-Based Classroom leans on the work of the experts in the field in a very pragmatic way and makes it a great resource for teachers seeking to engage in standards-based work."

Dr. Tom Buckmiller, Professor of Education, Drake University
Drake University

“If you are looking for that one book that explains teaching and learning, then this is it. Full of practical advice, suggestions, and further readings, the authors discuss and illustrate concepts with a clarity that is seldom witnessed in educational literature.”

Dr. Ken Darvall, Principal, Tema International School
Tema International School

"The Standards-Based Classroom: A Practical Approach really is practical! With a plethora of examples and models and great suggestions that are organized to be easily read and quickly learned, this book is a must-have for any teacher considering stepping up their game to increase student learning."

Renee Peoples, Teaching and Learning Coach, Swain County Schools
Swain County Schools

"Most of us know that middle and especially high school educators can be reluctant to implement authentic standards-based learning, including grading and reporting. By having secondary authors and practitioners speaking to secondary educators, this book is right on target for what’s needed in the field right now and captures the right spirit of what standards-based learning is all about."


Becca Lindahl, Ed.D., Professional Learning & Leadership Consultant
Professional Learning & Leadership Consultant

"This book is important because of its relevancy for teachers who are implementing or transitioning to standards-based learning or want to do so. As educators, we are always looking for ways to improve our craft, and readers will find this to be a great resource. In this book, teachers will find answers to common questions and concerns related to standards-based learning environments and develop confidence to communicate with students, parents, and colleagues regarding the change in practice. They will also gain much needed practical advice, examples, and processes to implement in a standards-based classroom."

Garnet Hillman, Author and Educational Consultant, Hillman Consulting
Hillman Consulting

"This book provides practical, realistic, and useful guidance to achieve its desired outcome. The authors take the 50,000-foot view of the best instructional, assessment, grading, and reporting practices that comprise the different parts of standards-based learning and integrate them into a practical system that improves learning for all students. Then they go to ground level to show how each piece works. The Standards-Based Classroom provides an outline or blueprint for developing a system that will improve the opportunities for learning for all students. "

Hugh O'Donnell, Education Consultant, Mentor Learning, LLC
Mentor Learning, LLC

The Standards-Based Classroom provides teachers with a practical guide to implement standards-based learning in their classrooms. The authors provide a perfect balance of context and commentary, practical examples, challenges, and suggestions for further exploration. Readers can use this book to transform their pedagogy and practice to better meet the needs of all learners with a standards-based approach.”

Brian M. Stack, High School Principal, Sanborn Regional High School, NH
Sanborn Regional High School

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ISBN: 9781544324203