Hawaii Content and Performance Standards III
The publication of the report A Nation at Risk (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983) served as the impetus for the standards movement in American education. Subsequently national content area organizations developed standards in their respective areas. Nationally, standards serve three general purposes: 1) To clarify expectations for students, 2) To raise those expectations, and 3) To provide common targets that help assure equitable educational expectations, opportunities, and experiences for all students. These three purposes form the foundation of Hawaii’s educational standards and standard-based education.
In Hawaii the effort to clarify and implement standards-based education is now in its third generation. The chronology below describes the evolution of the Hawaii Content and Performance Standards.
The Hawaii State Legislature created the Hawaii Commission on Performance Standards. The commission is composed of community members as well as a few DOE staff members. Their mission is to: (1) set the performance standards of achievement expected of all public school students, (2) recommend the means to assess student attainment of these standards, and (3) develop a school-by-school implementation model.
The Commission published the Hawaii Content and Performance Standards (commonly known as the “Blue Book”).
The Hawaii State Legislature created the Performance Standards Review Commission (PSRC) to be convened beginning in the 1997-98 school year and every four years thereafter to assess the effectiveness of Hawaii’s standards-based education implementation. The Review Commission findings suggested that the number of standards might be unwieldy for teachers to implement and recommended that HCPS be reformatted to be more user friendly.
The booklet “Making Sense of Standards” and the ten content area documents that constituted the HCPS II were the result of the Review Commission’s recommendations of 1994
The Council for Basic Education conducted a conference to identify the key issues related to the implementation of the Hawaii Content and Performance Standards in a standards-based system.
The Review Commission was again convened to consider implementation of the standards and to review the quality of the standards themselves.
In response to the Review Commission report and input from the teacher field, the Instructional Services Branch and McREL (Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning) worked to identify essential and desirable standards, benchmarks, and performance indicators.
The DOE begins refinement of HCPS II. This new standards document will be known as HCPS III.
Between April and August Hawaii Content and Performance Standards III for nine content areas were approved by the Board of Education.
Full implementation of HCPS III. HCPS III will be used as the basis of standards-based large-scale assessments, standards-based report cards, and standards-based course descriptions.
General Guidelines and Principles for the Development of the Hawaii Content and Performance Standards III
Purposes of the Hawaii Content and Performance Standards III
To assure equity by holding all students to the same expectations
To help schools improve student performance and meet Annual Yearly Progress
To define the content and skills that enable quality student performance
To reduce the number of standards to be more manageable and to clearly describe what ALL students should know and be able to do
To provide clearer focus on instructional targets by providing basic guidance in determining the quality of student work through benchmark rubrics
To provide a clear focus on assessment targets by providing sample performance assessments that can guide more specific assessment tasks at the classroom level
Rationale for Revising
Too many standards
Recommendations for the revision of HCPS II came from many sources. As mentioned above, in 2002 the Hawaii State Performance Standards Review Commission cited the following major criticisms of the original HCPS:
HCPS had 1544
HCPS II had only 139 standards but 3,960 benchmarks and grade level performance indicators
Lack of a strong connection between the standards and their purpose—the General Learner Outcomes
Lack of clarity and coherence in the wording of the standards
Lack of classroom assessment models or a general plan for assessing the HCPS
Despite the fact that HCPS II reduced the number of standards from 1544 to 139 teachers still felt there were still too many benchmarks and grade level performance indicators to implement at the classroom level. This led to the involvement of the Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL). McREL is one of ten regional educational laboratories that make up the Regional Educational Laboratory System , which serves education agencies and schools across the nation. McREL staff have done extensive work with standards and are at the forefront of standards-based education. McREL worked with DOE curriculum specialists to:
Calculate the time required to achieve standards and the identification of essential and desirable standards, benchmarks, and performance indicators. This activity was conducted with teachers in each content area and grade level.
Consider the time available in the school day was also calculated based on the focus of the grade level cluster (such as developing literacy in the early grades) and the time allowed within required courses at the secondary levels when developing standards and particularly grade level benchmarks.
Specifications for HCPS III Standards Development
Essential standards, benchmarks and performance indicators were used as the foundation for the HCPS III standards.
The following specifications were followed in the development of HCPS III standards. These principles guided each phase of the process and served to keep the focus on students. McREL staff analyzed the essential HCPS II standards against national and other state standards, and the DOE content specialists worked with teachers to assure the comprehensiveness of the standards. This was particularly important in areas where there were no other documents to use as comparison (such as Hawaiian history or native languages). The following were the guidelines used in developing the HCPS III standards, grade-level benchmarks, sample performance assessments, and rubric statements.
As the new standards statements were developed, they were also compared against national standards and other highly regarded state’s standards.
Analysis of the standards led to the elimination of overlaps and/or redundancies within and between content areas.
Consistent grain size (benchmarks that were of approximately the same instructional size)
Standards, benchmarks, sample performance assessments, and rubrics were written in plain language, understandable to primary audience (teachers) and secondary audiences (students and parents).
Benchmarks were written as describing “proficient.” Attention was paid to the taxonomic level of the benchmarks so that they would appropriately scaffold and challenge students.
Implementable—The benchmarks were written with consideration of the delivery of instruction (integrated elementary curriculum, required and elective courses at the secondary level)
Benchmarks and sample performance assessments were written to be measurable through the examination of student work from which valid inferences about student learning could be made
HCPS III: Standards for all Students
The Hawaii Content and Performance Standards III describe educational targets in all nine content areas for ALL students in grades K-5. All students, therefore, are expected to be given the opportunity to meet all of the K-5 HCPS III standards. At the secondary level, however, the standards describe different things in different content areas. For the four CORE content areas (Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies) the standards describe expectations for all students, since all students are expected to take certain required courses in these areas. For the extended core (Health, Physical Education, Fine Arts, World Languages, and Career and Technical Education) they describe a continuum that should be expected by students who choose courses in these areas as electives. It should be emphasized that ALL courses, required or elective, are standards-based and are part of the Hawaii Standards System.
Characteristics of Grades K-2: Acquiring the foundational skills
In the primary grades (K-2) the standards identify foundational content and skills. Instruction supports the acquisition of these very important skills, knowledge, and content. Children at these grade levels should be exposed to meaningful activities that support language and vocabulary development. Scaffolding learning is essential. Creating many varied opportunities to learn, practice and demonstrate skills is the focus of early elementary education. Teaching is structured and learning takes place in a more controlled, systematic context. As they learn and mature, children become increasing independent of the teacher.
Characteristics of Grades 3-5 Standards: Building upon foundational skills and knowledge
At the upper elementary levels (grades 3-5) curriculum focuses on refining, broadening, enhancing, and applying skills and knowledge in more challenging and varied contexts. Students use the foundational skills, processes, and knowledge they gained in their early elementary experience to extend and apply in all the nine content areas.
Characteristics of Grades 6-8 Standards: Exploring and Developing Interests
At the middle school level standards are designed to allow students to explore a variety of content and skills. This exploration can serve to focus curricular choices students make at the high school and post-secondary levels. There is an emphasis on refining and applying skills to more challenging and varied content. Higher order thinking and the development of civic mindedness is supported though the curriculum as guided by the standards. Students are encouraged to explore specialized content through world languages, art, or music and to use increasingly sophisticated means of communicating their learning through various computer applications.
Characteristics of Grades 9-12 Standards: Preparing for Post-Secondary Choices
Standards at the high school level prepare students to apply their learning in their post-secondary choices. They allow students to develop skills that will ensure their success in their adult lives including their participation in the larger global society. HCPS III standards of the CORE content areas (Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies) describe the minimal content of courses that fulfill graduation requirements. HCPS III standards of the Extended Core (Career and Technical Education, Fine Arts, Health, Physical Education, and World Languages) describe essential standards that can be fulfilled through elective courses of study. As students make elective course choices, they experience a well-rounded educational experience. HCPS Course Standards (to be described in another document) describe courses that some students may elect to take. These courses contain standards that allow students to develop knowledge and skills related to their interests, their talents, their post-secondary and/or career plans.
Organization of the Standards (General Description)
HCPS III standards are organized in a similar way for all nine content areas. Some of the content areas continue to organize their standards in grade level clusters. This is because, for content areas such as Physical Education, it is more developmentally appropriate to allow several years to achieve the benchmark, rather than to artificially break up physical skills into too discrete pieces that do not make sense instructionally. HCPS III are organized by and contain:
Strand =themes or “Big Ideas” that organize standards
Standard = a broad statement of what a student needs to know or be able to do
Topic = organizes the benchmarks into related ideas
Benchmark = a specific statement of what a student should know or be able to do (related to the topic) at a specific grade level or grade level cluster
Sample Performance Assessment = a generalized description of how a student might demonstrate significant aspects of the benchmark
The statement “No benchmark at this level” indicates that a grade level benchmark could not be created because it was either developmentally or instructionally inappropriate. The grade level/discipline at which a benchmark appears is where it may be assessed, but it is NOT the only grade level/discipline at which it should be taught. It is assumed, for example, that once content or a skill is taught it is reinforced and further developed in subsequent years. Benchmarks are not repeated.
The Standards Numbering System
Each benchmark is assigned a code as an aid to identify quickly its place in relation to the entire document, and as a placeholder for database purposes. By convention, the code consists of three positions, each separated by a decimal point: E.g., K.3.1
K.3.1 = Grade Level (Kindergarten) Clusters as appropriate (e.g., K-2.3.1)
K. 3.1 = Content Standard Number (Standard #3)
K.3. 1 = Benchmark Number (1st listed benchmark)
PS.7.3 = Course Abbreviation (Physical Science)
PS. 7.3 = Content Standard Number (Standard #7)
PS.7. 3 = Benchmark Number (3rd listed benchmark)
With the release of HCPS III, we continue the important journey begun a decade ago: to assure a quality education for every student in our public schools. This challenging task requires that we re-examine teaching and learning, that we reconsider curriculum, assessment, and instruction. To succeed in this task, we must implement HCPS III with both rigor and relevance, always keeping our ultimate goal firmly in mind: to improve student understanding.