For the purpose of this site and related resources, learning goals are defined as lesson-sized expectations of student learning. Rigorous learning goals are:
- derived from the Minnesota Academic Standards
- the foundation of classroom assessment
- the reference point to which assessment data is used to monitor progress and inform decisions about student learning
- strategically planned within a broader progression of long-term learning goals
- intended to guide educators and students about what they are, and where they are going next
Rigorous learning goals are NOT:
- the statements themselves directly from the Minnesota Academic Standards
- planned in isolation, unrelated to longer term progressions of learning
- intended for educators only
Minnesota has developed an assessment system to measure achievement towards meeting the Minnesota Academic Standards and to measure progress towards meeting the WIDA English Language Development Standards. The statewide assessments administered in Minnesota are one
measure within a comprehensive assessment system
. Each component of a comprehensive assessment system generates different types of data, which has varying levels of impact on student learning. Before that data can be analyzed to make effective decisions at a district or school level, the following must be in place to ensure a comprehensive assessment system will function in the service of student learning:
A clear instructional plan must be in place which outlines the long-term goals teachers and students work toward over the course of an academic year. These goals should be based on the Minnesota Academic Standards, which are broad statements about student learning. Progress toward these long term goals are measured by summative assessments like the statewide assessments.
Specific and targeted learning goals that are smaller in scope should be articulated for all
lessons. One standard may encompass multiple lesson-sized learning targets. Measurement of learning goals at this smaller level is typically accomplished by formative assessment
in the classroom.
Learning goals must be clear to all involved in the teaching and learning process, especially students. Communicating learning goals effectively involves mapping out achievement levels, so that all students understand what mastery of the standards looks like.
The importance that all students are taught and satisfactorily complete all academic standards cannot be emphasized enough. Historically, when educational outcomes and curriculum are left open and loosely defined—that is, no standards are set—many children do not have access to rigorous curricula, particularly children of color, American Indian students, and students from low-income families (Scherer, 2001, pp. 14–18 & Lachat, 1999, pp. 8–11). By clearly defining the knowledge and skills that all students are expected to achieve, Minnesota’s academic standards were created to provide the basis for educational equity for K–12 public schools across the state. While local districts, schools, and teachers design curricula that sequence standards and define how long is spent on specific standards, students must not be taught a limited number of academic standards (e.g., “Power Standards”) due to prioritization or test preparation. All students are expected to satisfactorily demonstrate understanding of all standards.