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Standards-based Education

In the Spring of 2020 Columbia Adventist Academy eagerly agreed to be one of the first schools to roll out the North American Division Office of Education’s new commitment to standards-based education. We are proud to be selected and excited to make this journey.

To facilitate this process, CAA hired Jeni Schmidt, to not only teach English and ESL classes, but to also serve as our Vice-Principal for Curriculum and Instruction. Jeni has over ten years experience working with and coaching teachers in a standards-based educational environment and she will be our resident expert as we make this transition. Additionally, CAA teachers and administrators spent two full days in June attending a standards-based workshop. Since then, teachers have been working all summer, preparing to implement what they have learned.

Standards-based education is a student-centered approach. This type of approach focuses the learning on developing skills and knowledge instead of the accumulation of points. Student achievement is measured against learning objectives (standards) or “I Cans,” and these learning objectives are clearly and consistently communicated to students through proficiency scales. Teachers track student progress through formative assessments and use these assessments not to grade students but to inform teaching next steps and support for each student. Summative assessments evaluate student learning, and because students learn at different rates, they are given as many opportunities as they need to demonstrate their learning. Each grade only reflects what the students know and are able to do.

While CAA is committed to this process, initially not every class will be using standards-based teaching and grading, but every teacher will be implementing it in at least one class and integrating the concepts in all their classes. Each teacher will be communicating with parents about what this will look like in their class and will share the standards they are covering over the school year. You can view our Standards-based Teaching/Learning/Grading Parent Guide by clicking here.

As CAA teachers continue on this mastery-based teaching journey, it will become evident. In the near future, when you walk into a classroom at CAA, standards-based teaching will show itself in small ways: learning objectives written on a whiteboard or on a poster, proficiency scales that reflect learning objectives and steps to achieve them, small formative assessments that supply evidence of mastery, and summative assessments with learning objectives attached to sections or questions. But the biggest evidence will be the shift that takes place when students stop talking about grades and points and begin talking about what they are learning. They take control of their learning.

We are so thankful that you have entrusted your student to our care, and we take their education very seriously. We believe that this journey to standards-based education not only focuses and improves CAA’s commitment to quality education, but it will instill confidence into each of our students and prepare them for whatever next steps they want to take. 

Standards-based Teaching/Learning/Grading Parent Guide

Standards for Secondary Education -

Understanding the Grade Book