The Learning Criteria is a tool for teachers, administrators, and parents to evaluate classroom experiences. Focusing on the four dimensions that follow, staff and leadership teams are able to craft high-engagement learning opportunities that prepare students to be well-rounded individuals ready to succeed in school and beyond.
1. Foundation Learning
Foundation learning is the knowledge and skill level a school or district requires all students to achieve. Students are assessed against this level on standardized tests. Student performance against this skill level is expressed objectively and is often related to achieving Adequate Yearly Progress. Some schools may incorporate the core beliefs and values of a particular learning community, or the requirement of performing arts involvement or second language studies.
2. Stretch Learning
Stretch learning is the extent to which students take opportunities for rigorous and relevant learning beyond the minimum requirements, as defined in foundation learning. When students are stretched, they are encouraged to participate in interdisciplinary activities and competitions, to enroll in honors courses, to pursue career majors, or to satisfy requirements for specialized certificates. Opportunities vary by school or district; an urban school may create business connections for internships, or a college town school might develop a blended curriculum.
3. Personal Skill Development
Personal skill development encompasses skills such as goal setting and organization, and includes social skills such as empathy and emotion control. Also included are leadership skills, collaboration, and team building. Personal skill development is characterized by service learning and social and emotional growth. Through personal skill development, students are better prepared for lifelong success in business, at home, and in their communities.
4. Learner Engagement
Learner engagement is the overarching dimension; it is both the prerequisite and the unifying theme for achieving success. When learners engage with their teachers, peers, and school community, they are intrinsically motivated and more readily participate in the learning process. They feel a sense of satisfaction, belonging, and accomplishment and, consequently, exhibit positive behaviors.
- As the personal agenda for the school
- As a tool for teacher growth
- As a vehicle to further the values and beliefs of a school
The International Center and the Council of Chief State School Officers embarked on a five-year initiative in 2005, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Successful Practices Network. The initiative focused on classroom instruction and effective learning, and sought to identify, analyze, enrich, and disseminate the nation’s most successful, school-wide practices and policies for achieving a rigorous and relevant curriculum for all students. Comprehensive criteria to identify and evaluate high schools that are proven models of success were among the required outputs of this initiative.