Getting to Proficiency Post 8: Drafting our Cross-Curricular Standards

Thanks to the following staff for agreeing to work on our cross-curricular standards (Manon Lewis, Mary Miller, Tanya Hammond, Emily Higgins, Bryan Dionne, Elizabeth Tilton, Kristin Smith, Mame Anthony, Mike Cherry, Chip Schwehm, Dan Welch, and Mark Tess).

The work that the Proficiency Steering committee will begin next week will follow this format.

  • Choose a guiding principle to address.
  • Re-write the Guiding Principle following the format below.
  • Share on this blog with the entire staff for feedback.
  • Draft a cross-curricular rubric to measure the performance indicators agreed to for the principle.
  • Repeat with the next Guiding Principle.

The process for rewriting the Guiding Principle:

Guiding Principles

Crafting the guiding principles into a useable form as graduation standards will require several steps. These statements from the State include a wide range of items, some are skills, some dispositions, some are knowledge targets and others are more appropriately described as beliefs about what a graduate should be after a k-12 education. We will need to sort these out to design assessments and cross-curricular rubrics to measure them. How we assess dispositions must be different from how we assess many of the thinking skills stated in the guiding principles.

The second issue is the level of rigor present in the principles. Some are fairly concrete and represent targets with less rigor (uses a variety of modes of expression) while others are much more abstract (evaluates and synthesizes information from multiple sources) and more rigorous. Ideally, our graduation standards should identify targets that are of the same rigor.

The following is the process we will undertake next week in addressing the first guiding principle(s).


Before dissecting the state documents or other examples, we should examine what we value around the Guiding Principle in question. What do we really want students to know and be able to do when they have left school, as it pertains to the Guiding Principle being addressed. Questions such as the following should guide this reflection:

a) What do we want students to come away with from the Boothbay Schools as it pertains to this principle.
b) What should citizens be able to do?
c) What does college preparation for this look like?
d) Thinking of a graduate that exemplifies this standard, what knowledge and skills does the graduate possess?
e) Ask yourself, above all else we want graduates who can/will ….?
f) If you are frustrated by a student’s inability to be___________ what skills or knowledge are they missing?
g) How does this guiding principle enact itself in various disciplines and contexts?
h) What do these various examples share in common?


Next review the Guiding Principle and performance indicators as described in the Maine Learning Results. Review other documents that address this principle.

We might look at:

a) other States’ goals and standards documents.
b) national and international frameworks for cross-curricular or 21st century skills.
c) other Maine school systems’ Guiding Principles and indicators.

We should look for:

a) descriptions and language that capture what we identified in the reflection from step 1.
b) skills not mentioned in our first step, but that seem important.
c) ways to organize the descriptors and indicators


After considering the questions and prompts in the first two steps, rewrite the guiding principle considering these guidelines:

a) For the guiding principle to be amenable to assessment, it must be observable and measurable. Words like understand, develop, appreciate, embracing, or nurturing (all words in the current guiding principles) do not lend themselves to measurement and therefore assessment.
b) The principle is broader than a standard, i.e. it cannot be measured by just one assessment, but the indicators must be measurable in an assessment.
c) The principle and performance indicators should not include or require a specific task to enable students to demonstrate their understanding.
d) The principle and performance indicators should be written in language that students and parents can understand.
e) The principle and performance indicators should apply to many contexts and disciplines.
f) The principle and performance indicators should be sufficiently rigorous.

One strategy to develop the performance indicators is to review rubrics that purport to measure the Guiding Principle and use the traits that are measured to write the performance indicators. This is the opposite of how most rubrics are developed, i.e. the performance indicators and traits in the standard are used to write the rubric, but a good rubric can help to identify the measurable language that must be captured in a standard.

Embed technology outcomes into these standards.

The school district has made a substantial commitment to providing technology to support teaching and learning. There are a number of natural fits for technology outcomes in the Cross-curricular standards, specifically around communication, information literacy, and broadening a definition of citizenship to include digital citizenship. We must find places to articulate these outcomes as we redraft the graduation standards and rubrics.

In the next post I will share an example for Clear and Effective Communicator


About shawncarlson

Assistant Superintendent
This entry was posted in Assessment, BRES, BRHS, Curriculum. Bookmark the permalink.

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