Power Standards

Designing 21st Century Universal Classrooms

What are Power Standards?

The term Power Standards was coined by Dr. Doug Reeves of the Center for Leadership and Learning in Colorado, and further developed by his colleague, Dr. Larry Ainsworth. Ainsworth defines Power Standards as a prioritized set of State Standards and Expectations that are essential, that is, critical for student success.   Here in our Supervisory Union, we have modified that definition. We believe Power Standards should represent a synthesis of the most essential “big ideas” from Vermont’s Framework of Standards and Learning Opportunities. They have been determined through a systematic approach to “balancing” curricular representation of multiple academic areas. They represent the ultimate learning goals we have for all students to achieve. They provide the PreK-12 focus for our SU, and move us away from a more arbitrary coverage model.   Although fully aligned, they are not a simple repetition of every single standard in the Vermont Framework.   They are representative of what is most vital in academic literacy. They are truly the backbone of a Guaranteed, Viable Curriculum, and form a “safety net” of standards. Their indicators outline what all students must demonstrate to proficiency at each grade level or at benchmarked junctures of schooling.

How does an SU decide on these Power Standards?

Educators in CCSU who are part of the PreK-12 Curriculum Leadership groups come to consensus on these essential standards and their grade-level indicators based on three identification criteria:

  • ENDURANCE – Is the knowledge and skill essential in order to be literate in this area beyond a single test (i.e. is there life-long value to this)?
  • LEVERAGE – Will the knowledge and skill prove to be valuable in learning essential content in other academic areas?
  • READINESS -Is the knowledge and skills needed in order for the student to be successful and achieve not only in this grade level, but in subsequent grades?

If the answer to all three questions is “yes,” then those concepts, content, and skills become part of the standards that make up the Guaranteed, Viable Curriculum.

Written and compiled by Linda Keating, CCSU, 11/20/06, revised on 9/20/07 and again on 6/24/08.    Formats adapted from documents created by Monadnock Regional School District, NH (Dr. D. G. Hodgdon) and Rockford Public Schools, IL (Terri Breeder and Martha Hayes)