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List of Benchmarks for Thinking and Reasoning

Standard 1.Understands and applies the basic principles of presenting an argument
  Level I (Grade K-2)
   1. Understands that people are more likely to believe a person’s ideas if that person can give good reasons for them
   2. Provides coherent (though not necessarily valid or convincing) answers when asked why one believes something to be true or how one knows something
   3. Asks "how do you know" in appropriate situations (e.g., questioning evidence presented in problems or texts)
  Level II (Grade 3-5)
   1. Uses facts from books, articles, and databases to support an argument
   2. Identifies basic informal fallacies, including appeals to authority and pity, personal attacks, the use of statements such as "everybody knows," and vague references such as "leading doctors say"
   3. Understands that reasoning can be distorted by strong feelings
   4. Analyzes arguments to determine if they are supported by facts from books, articles, and databases
   5. Asks questions about and seeks better reasons for believing arguments than the assertion that "everybody knows" or "I just know"
  Level III (Grade 6-8)
   1. Evaluates arguments that are based on quantitative data and mathematical concepts
   2. Questions claims that use vague references such as "leading experts say..." or are based on the statements of people speaking outside of their expertise (e.g., celebrities)
   3. Questions conclusions based on very small samples of data, biased samples, or samples for which there is no central sample
   4. Makes basic distinctions between information that is based on fact and information that is based on opinion
   5. Identifies and questions false analogies
   6. Identifies and questions arguments in which all members of a group are implied to possess nearly identical characteristics that are considered to be different from those of another group
   7. Compares and contrasts the credibility of differing accounts of the same event
  Level IV (Grade 9-12)
   1. Identifies techniques used to slant information in subtle ways (e.g., selecting only information that supports a point; ignoring information that contradicts a point)
   2. Develops logical arguments that are based on quantitative data
   3. Identifies or seeks out the critical assumptions behind a line of reasoning and uses that to judge the validity of an argument
   4. Understands that to be convincing, an argument must have both true statements and valid connections among them
   5. Uses a variety of strategies to construct an argument (e.g., facts, anecdotes, case studies, quotations, logical reasoning, tables, charts, graphs)
   6. Evaluates the overall effectiveness of complex arguments
   7. Evaluates an argument objectively by considering all sides of an issue (e.g., using past experience, data, logical analysis
   8. Knows that a good argument anticipates and attempts to answer objections before they are posed
   9. Develops a clear and coherent thesis and conclusion for an argument