What a great time to revisit the notion of identifying essential standards or power standards in your classroom! The process of identifying power standards acknowledges the time shortage, and encourages faculty to work collaboratively to determine which standards are most critical at each grade level and makes sure that their teaching supports that emphasis.

The WHEN & The WHY

Schools may select power standards at the start of the school year, or may find a mid-year selection process is most timely. One of the biggest incentives for power standards is that once identified, teachers are on the same page, and feel more at ease about which standards deserve the most focus for the remaining months. Reducing teacher stress as well as reducing unrealistic or inconsistent expectations put on students are two great reasons for saying YES to power standards!


Once teachers have come to consensus on identifying the most essential standards and have compared their selections across grade levels, identifying gaps, overlaps and omissions, they need a clear and consistent way to denote which standards are power standards.

One way to make your power standards stand out among the rest is to create a unique icon that would flag each essential standard. If your school has a curriculum mapping system, like Atlas, then creating those identifiers becomes quite easy and very helpful.

The appearance of the power standards icon should be easy to recognize and distinguishable from the rest of your standards.


After selecting an icon that visually flags each power standard, you are ready to begin building and reviewing alignments. Being able to collectively track which essential standards are aligned to each course, particularly across multiple grade levels, creates a clear, cohesive process. For instance, if there were thirty standards in Grade 8 English, perhaps fourteen might be identified as Power Standards.  Filtering reports to those fourteen Power Standards allows teachers and administrators to take note of which have been taught- perhaps it’s eight of the 14, leaving six to be integrated into the remainder of the year.

The report below shows the Power and Supporting Standards in Social Studies Grades 6-8. Seeing a comparison across multiple grade levels allows the Social Studies cohort to take a close, analytical look at which standards deserve priority in each grade.

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