Standards and Student Achievement

Patricia Zimmerman
CSDE Educational Consultant

Currently, there are three self-nomination programs available to Connecticut teachers to recognize exemplary teacher. These programs reward teacher initiatives for professional development and life-long learning.

They are the federal Blue Ribbon Schools program, awarded on the collective, collaborative efforts of teachers promoting excellence within a designated school; the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), an independent, non-governmental organization that offers individual teachers in the United States a way to become judged in teaching competencies that are comparable to established standards in other professions; and Celebration of Excellence, a State Department of Education program that provides the opportunity for individual teachers in the state’s public schools to be recognized for innovative, exemplary standards-based curriculum projects that are disseminated to colleagues in Connecticut’s public school districts.

The aforementioned programs are experiencing increased public accountability to document student achievement relative to best practices employed in the classroom. Standards for both student and teacher performance are increasingly linked to student outcomes.

To become a National Board Certified Teacher, teachers complete a performance-based assessment that requires documenting, subject matter knowledge, demonstrating the ability to teach students effectively, and showing a proven ability to manage and measure student learning. According to a recent study by the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, National Board Certified Tachers outperform their peers in teaching expertise and student achievement.

The Blue Ribbon Schools recognition process centers on eight key components of a school: school organization and culture; challenging standards and curriculum; active teaching and learning; professional community; leadership and educational vitality; school, family, and community partnerships; and other indicators of success. For the academic year 2002-03, these eight components and other related topics will form the basis of an application process that focuses on student achievement for Blue Ribbon Schools recognition.

Celebration of Excellence is meeting the expressed needs of its stakeholders to increase the accountability of its curricular projects; not only in terms of motivating student learning, but also in producing measureable outcomes for content objectives aligned with standards-based assessment. Standards-based products are included in the 2001-02 awarded projects. The 2002-03 Celebrant projects will include samples of student work that illustrate increasing mastery of content taught and teacher reflections on strategies that inform instruction and promote student achievement.