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Benchmarks & Content Standards

Although the term "benchmarks" is frequently tossed around in complex discussions regarding educational reform and assessment, they aren't anything mysterious.

Simply put, benchmarks are lists of what every person should know. Typically, such lists are broken down by grade or age level.

Benchmarks can provide a useful guide for designing your homeschool curriculum or sdeveloping unit studies.

When choosing a benchmark list or typical course of study to use as a framework, be sure carefully evaluate the list. A state-based benchmark list which was developed to ensure that all 3rd graders pass a competency test may not be the most appropriate guide to use in your home.

The array of human knowledge is quite large, and no course of study is going to encompass more than a tiny fraction of that knowledge. You will need to use your judgment to assess whether or not a particular course of study covers the areas you think are important for your child to learn.

Keep in mind that any benchmark list or course of study is a guide, you may certainly add or remove items as you see fit.

Benchmarks can also be helpful when assessing your child's educational progress, particularly if you are interested in comparing your child's knowledge to an external standard.

Related Resources

Content Standards for K-12 Curriculum
"A compilation of content standards for K-12 curriculum in both searchable and browsable formats."

Core Knowledge: Lesson Plans
"This collection contains units developed by teachers in Core Knowledge schools and presented at recent Core Knowledge National Conferences."

Standards of Learning for Virginia Public Schools
"The Standards of Learning for Virginia Public Schools describe the commonwealth's expectations for student learning and achievement in grades K-12 in English, mathematics, science, history/social science, technology, the fine arts, foreign language, health and physical education, and driver education."

World Book: Typical Course of Study
"Examine a list of subjects and the grade level in which these subjects are usually taught in U.S. schools."

Buying a Homeschool Curriculum
Tips for evaluating curricula and making the best choice for your family.

Designing a Homeschool Curriculum
A five step guide to designing your own curriculum.

Homeschooling Methods
An overview of the various homeschooling methods.

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