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As part of the ongoing effort to provide the best of current information related to standards, we have completed a significant update of the standards database. The 4th edition online database includes the following features and additions:

Browsable Topics

Every benchmark in the database has been organized under one or more topics. The topics that have been assigned to benchmarks are terms or phrases commonly used in the subject area to help organize instruction. Topics serve to connect closely related benchmarks across one or more standards and subject areas; they also provide an easier way to retrieve a set of benchmarks. Thus, topics are an alternative to standards as a means for organizing benchmarks. For the 4th edition, some topics have been revised. In addition, benchmarks can now be browsed by topic.

Knowledge/Skill Statements

Each benchmark has been analyzed to determine the knowledge or skill that it comprises. Benchmarks in the standards database are written more broadly than learning objectives for a particular lesson. Thus, it is often useful to understand the more narrow and specific descriptions of knowledge and skill that benchmarks address. For example, consider the following science benchmark, which appears at the 6–8 level in standard 10:

Benchmark 3. Knows that an object's motion can be described and represented graphically according to its position, direction of motion, and speed

There are a number of items of information within this benchmark, which can be clearly represented as separate knowledge statements.

  1. Knows that an object's motion can be partly described by its change in position
  2. Knows that an object's motion can be partly described by its direction of motion
  3. Knows that an object's motion can be partly described by its speed
  4. Knows that an object's change in position can be represented graphically
  5. Knows that an object's speed can be represented graphically

The knowledge or skill statement provides a level of detail that can be useful for lesson planning and assessment. For lesson planning, the statements make clear what knowledge and skills contribute to mastery of the benchmark. For assessment, the knowledge/skill statements provide a level of specificity that may be more appropriate for single test items. Readers interested in how these statements are addressed in the source documents may click these hyperlinked statements to find the specific pages on which this information is found.

Performance Expectations  

The K–8 mathematics and language arts standards have been expanded to include the first performance statements to appear in the Compendium. Until now, all content in the Compendium has been described solely in terms of knowledge or skill, with no indication of the level of performance expected from students. The principal reason for this absence of performance description is that, while information and skill can be summarized across source documents, differing levels of student expectation cannot. For example, consider the knowledge/skill statement, "multiplies whole numbers." It is clear from a review of multiple documents that students should be able to multiply whole numbers at some point in the grade 3–5 range. However, a review of these documents shows that the level of performance expected differs, sometimes significantly, and so cannot be summarized in a single phrase (see sample below). Yet this diverse information should prove useful for educators who need to determine what levels of performance are appropriate for their students.

Performance statements for the knowledge/skill statement "Multiplies whole numbers"  

  • Develops fluency in multiplying whole numbers (M: NCTM: Principles & Standards for School Mathematics)
  • Multiplies two two-digit numbers (P: NAEP: Mathematics Assessment Framework)

  • Multiplies whole numbers by single-digit numbers (C3: Council for Basic Education, by end of grade 3)

  • Uses algorithms to solve multiplication problems (C5: Council for Basic Education, by end of grade 5)

Analysts at McREL have reviewed the significant national documents that provide the clearest sense of performance expectations for language arts and mathematics, K–8. Wherever this information was available from source documents, analysts captured the performance expectation, often in a paraphrase, directly related to a knowledge/skill statement. In the online database, the presence of the symbol  P  indicates that analysts have identified performance information about the knowledge/skill statement, which is available by clicking on the statement. In the sample above, information about the skill statement "multiplies whole numbers" was available from National Council of Mathematics' standards document, the Mathematics Assessment Framework from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, and documents from the Council for Basic Education.

Scored Assessment Items  

High-quality assessment items, complete with data on student performance, have been aligned to more than 150 specific knowledge/skill statements in K–8 mathematics and language arts.  Analysts have collected and reviewed mathematics assessment items released from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study as well as mathematics and reading and writing assessment items released from the National Assessment for Educational Progress. Captured in PDF document format, these assessment items are directly accessible from the knowledge/skill statements to which they are aligned. The assessment item, formatted for immediate use, is available on the first page of the file; the answer and item statistics are found on the page following.

When an assessment item has been aligned to a knowledge/skill statement, users will see the symbol  A  next to the knowledge/skill statement, indicating that a click-through will provide access to that assessment item.

Career Education Standards  

Career Education standards have now been fully integrated into the McREL database of standards. Standards and benchmarks in each of the areas – Agricultural EducationArts and CommunicationBusiness EducationEngineering EducationFamily/Consumer Sciences and Health Education are now available through browsable topics. In addition, every benchmark has been expanded to include knowledge/skill statements. Engineering Education standards have also been revised to reflect the recent updates in source material.


Each benchmark has been reviewed to determine the significant terms and phrases—benchmark vocabulary—that represent its content. Benchmark vocabulary includes terms and phrases that appear in the benchmarks, as well as terms and phrases that do not, but that capture ideas within benchmarks. Expanding the benchmark vocabulary in this way provides users with additional avenues for searching and retrieving benchmarks. Consider, for example, the following benchmark in science (standard 6, Level II [Grade 3-5]):

Knows that an organism's patterns of behavior are related to the nature of that organism's environment (e.g., kinds and numbers of other organisms present, availability of food and resources, physical characteristics of the environment)

Among other vocabulary identified for this benchmark is the phrase "population density." Although this phrase does not appear in the benchmark itself, it represents an embedded concept. Thus, users who search the text of the standards and benchmarks for "population density" will not be successful, but they will be successful if they search for this phrase in the benchmark vocabulary. For the 4th edition, the vocabulary of each subject area was reviewed and revised to insure that the terms accurately summarized the concepts addressed in each benchmark.

Prekindergarten benchmarks

Each of the three subject areas has been extended to include benchmarks at prekindergarten. These benchmarks were developed using the same process that was used to develop all other benchmarks in the Compendium (for a complete discussion of the method, see the section The Process of This Work). As in the 3rd edition, a reference to the source documents that were used to develop any benchmark is available by clicking on that benchmark.

See the Acknowledgments page for a list of contributors to this edition.