Standards. We all have them, whether we name them as such or not. We have a standard for everything from the clothes we wear, to the food we eat, to the work we do and the relationships we enjoy. Some of the standards we live by are established externally – the FDA determines the health and safety of the food we eat and the medicines we take. The regulations by the EPA determine the standard for the air we breathe and the water we drink. OSHA determines what safety standards must be in place in every workplace. These standards were established so that we could all live safely and be unharmed in our daily existence. Most of us would agree that we are better off with these standards and regulations in place than without them.
Education has standards. We hear about them all the time – No Child Left Behind, Common Core, NSTA, NCTM, NCTE, ISTE and many other governing bodies. A school’s job is to live up to these standards. Again, most people agree that we are better off with the standards than without. However, how is it determined if a school, a classroom, or a teacher is indeed meeting the standards? How do we know it to be true? Is it the curriculum that is used? Is it the training of the teachers? Is it the performance of the students?
As a Montessori school, it is clear that some schools adhere to the Montessori standards of excellence more than others. Some classrooms within a school administer the standard differently. Some schools have “Montessori” in their name, yet make no attempt to adhere to the standards set forth by the American Montessori Society, the governing body for excellence in Montessori education. Though standards can sometimes push or pull in varying directions, it is important for schools to determine the standards to which they will hold themselves and work to uphold the excellence of those standards. Educating children is the work of schools. Using standards to inform instruction holds schools accountable as they work to serve all students in the very best ways.