Standards-Based Instruction

Standards-Based Instruction (SBI) is a teaching method that is based on standards of skill mastery.

Deeply rooted in research and supported by significant evidence and observable experience, SBI is a student-centered form of pedagogy (the craft of teaching children) and curricular design.

A “standard” (sometimes called a “learning standard” or a “content standard”) is a set of conditions that a child should achieve that mean a child has truly gained a given set of knowledge or a given skill. In short, it is a concrete description of what a student should be able to understand and be able to do. Standards are generally written in such a way that all children should be able to meet them, and that any given child can theoretically exceed them. This stands in contrast to traditional systems that may expect all students to be “perfect” or “free of errors,” and “punish” students who do not. The framework of standards gives a concrete set of expectations to schools on what to teach, and liberates professional educators on exactly how to teach, thereby allowing schools to better meet the needs of individual children. At Discovery, we are deeply committed to using proven, research-backed methods in how we teach the standards.

The Virginia Department of Education sets standards for all schools in the Commonwealth, and Arlington Public Schools establishes a framework of expectations for instructing those skills. The links on the left will take you to the standards we use, as determined by Arlington Public Schools.

At Discovery, teachers collaborate to genuinely understand what is needed to advance each student’s learning from wherever they begin to mastering those skills. Research-based techniques and designs form the heart of our work with each student, as each of our highly-qualified professional educators plays a unique and powerful role in our Professional Learning Community, often called a PLC.

Within our Professional Learning Community, each grade level and content area collaborates as a Collaborative Learning Team, or CLT, bringing research, skills, professional development, tools, resources, and a variety of support staff – including our robust Instructional Coaches team and a variety of Special Education professionals and service providers – to bear on our goal: To ensure every single child masters every required skill in a meaningful, authentic way. Our CLTs use a profound array of resources, data, evidence, and professional networks to enhance their skills and help them to target each student’s unique learning needs.

Discovery values student learning. The only distinction that is important to a student’s learning is whether or not that student has achieved mastery of the skill at hand. If the child hasn’t, that child is developing, and we have more work to do together. If the child has mastered the skill, we give opportunities to extend and enhance that skill. Because the way in which each child develops is unique, “ranking” kids or further distinguishing “levels” is counterproductive to learning.

Standards-Based Instruction focuses on what students understand and what they can do with that understanding. This differs from traditional instruction, which is often task-based, leading to teaching based on productivity rather than comprehension and ability.