I have argued previously on this blog  that student behavior, when observed by an administrator, is most often a direct reflection of teacher behavior, especially in the highest functioning classrooms.  Teachers engage and students are clearly engaged in the lesson's objectives.  Teachers run well-managed classrooms and students correspondingly arrive with their materials, assume their assigned seats and proceed to work from bell to bell, sometimes even managing each other.  Teachers check for understanding and transition from one lesson segment to another.  Students demonstrate that they have understood and move smoothly through lesson segments, including cooperative groupings, guided and independent practice, etc.  There is certainly ample evidence of significant planning and professional behavior on the part of the teacher and most students respond positively to this.  The philosophy behind the California Standards for the Teaching Profession places this burden squarely on the  teachers.  It is no longer acceptable anywhere in California for a teacher to state:  "I taught it; they didn't learn it."  A huge cadre of California teachers and administrators have been through a BTSA induction program.  These professionals have been thoroughly in-serviced on the teaching standards and willingly accept the burden of leaving no child behind.  BTSA believes as a matter of faith the maxim, "if any student didn't learn it, I didn't teach it."  

The unintended consequences of this vast commitment on the part of teachers is the relatively passive role students feel very comfortable assuming.  After all, if a particular teacher is not all that engaging, then the student feels justified in disengaging from the lesson.  The last consequence we should ever desire is the feeling on the part of students that they have been handed a remote and can turn the channel whenever bored.  

The support system established in California to meet the needs of the reluctant learner is truly impressive.  In my work with beginning teachers I have witnessed the myriad pathways to learning employed to leave no child behind.  There are basic classes, foundation classes, pull-out programs, classroom aides, resource specialists, opportunity classes, special day classes, AVID programs, academies.  This is, by no means, a complete list.  While observing the nearly Herculean efforts sometimes employed to overcome student ennui, I have often wondered why the state does not also have a corresponding set of standards for student learners.  Why can't the students meet their teachers at least half-way?  After-all, this is their education, their future.  Shouldn't the average student strive to get absolutely everything he can out of each learning opportunity, regardless of the degree to which it may fall short of the ideal?  One might argue that student engagement and commitment is implied, but I would argue that it is not.  A close reading of the teaching standards reveals a set of very troubling assumptions.  Buried in the language of the standards is the portrait of an unruly classroom of merely present students, over which the skilled teacher must assert some order and provide the necessary stimulation.  When it functions best, the entire endeavor is a highly efficient content delivery system.  And, in the hands of a very skilled practitioner, content is delivered and standards are mastered, often in spite of, what is perceived to be,  a generalized state of student apathy.   

The Common Core Standards have provided me the impetus to craft a rough-draft of what a set of standards for student learners might look like.  I do not believe these student standards should merely reflect the teaching standards.  Without such student standards, this is already the default situation.  No, these standards should reflect the very high expectations of these new content standards, that students should be independent and proficient consumers of ever-increasingly complex text.  These standards should reflect the high stakes endeavor in which  young learners are engaged.  They should also recognize the central role the writer of text will play in such an educational system.  

So, below is the rough draft of such a set of student standards.

Standard One:  I am responsible for my own education.

1.1   As early as possible I will focus on my educational path and take responsibility for the decisions that allow me to stay on my path.

1.2   I will routinely seek counseling and advice about my educational path.

1.3   I will take an early interest in any college or career path that presents itself.

1.4    I will regularly monitor my progress in each of my subjects and will take an active interest in assessing my own performance.

1.5    I will make my parents or guardians aware of what progress I have made in each of my subjects.

1.6    I will actively involve my parents or guardians in all my academic decisions.

Standard Two:  I am responsible for my own behavior in each class.

2.1    I understand that daily attendance in all my classes will greatly enhance my chance of academic success.

2.2    I understand and appreciate the importance of attending class from bell to bell.

2.3    I understand the importance of arriving in class with all the necessary materials required for that class session.

2.4    I understand that off-task, or disruptive, behavior can jeopardize my opportunity to learn and can also negatively impact the learning opportunities of my classmates.

2.5    I will continually monitor my own behavior and actively promote a class atmosphere that fosters learning for all.

Standard Three:  I am responsible for my own engagement during each lesson.

3.1    I bear the majority of the responsibility for engaging with the lesson.

3.2     I am solely responsible for engaging any text and maintaining my focus.

3.3     I will respond, to the best of my ability, both orally and in writing, to the questions and prompts of my teachers.

3.4      I will listen carefully to the responses of my fellow students and engage them with my own critical thinking.

3.5      I will actively participate to the best of my ability in any cooperative learning opportunities.

Standard Four:  I understand that a varying percentage of my work will take place outside of class.

4.1           I understand that, throughout my education, work outside of class will play a major role in my learning.

4.2           I acknowledge that most of my learning will be independently mastered, often outside of the classroom.

4.3           I understand that the greater amount of work on research assignments will take place outside of class. 

4.4           I understand that the timeliness of my assignments, and the pacing it takes to meet deadlines, are my own responsibility.

Standard Five:  I understand that the academic world is a text-based world.

5.1     I understand that, throughout my education, texts of varying difficulty and complexity will play a major role in my learning.

5.2     I understand that authors of texts will guide my learning to a great degree.

5.3     I understand that my ability to comprehend increasingly complex texts will affect my achievement in college and career.

5.4     I understand that complex texts require close reading and re-reading and that this reading must be done independently.

Standard Six:  I understand that the quality of the rest of my life is directly related to how much education I complete and how much I learn while in school.

6.1    I understand that learning is a journey and that each class represents a step on that journey.

6.2    I understand that many classes represent a part of a sequence of learning and that the content standards in each class must be mastered.

6.3     I understand that teachers and schools are here to help me with my journey, but the success of my journey is my own responsibility.

6.4     I understand that what kind of job I seek and what kind of career advancement I experience is highly correlated with the educational level I achieve.

The standards for students grabbed me. I have two kids who went through school, hearing me tell them that they had the responsibility for finding their way to learning each subject, each year, from each teacher. I didn't lead them to think they should "love" or even "like" their teachers (especially starting in middle school). I didn't tell them they had to "love" each subject matter. But like food, they needed to eat it for nourishment.

The infantilization of children in America is a long-standing and unfortunate phenomenon. I fear it has gotten slowly worse over time. I also fear that schooling -- which too often leads to classrooms where teachers talk and students listen and watch -- teaches students to consume knowledge passively.

Your student standards challenge all this. Everyone has a responsible role to play, don't they. I have a hunch that kids would like hearing your message, and make them feel more grown-up, as well.

Congrats on your daring to say something off the beaten path...


If I am unclear about any directions, It is my responsibility to see clarification. It is my responsibility to follow any written directions


J'aime vraiment vos articles à partager


A bit mean, I have read very carefully your article, so I learned a lot


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