Using the two levels of standards flagging in Atlas, schools and teachers can prioritize standards for instruction across their courses and units. As teachers deliver instruction and assess these standards and benchmarks, schools can use these different kinds of standards flagging and the reporting features in Atlas to support meaningful conversations and informed curricular decisions.

Whole School Level

Curriculum writers with System Administrator access in Atlas can identify standards to be prioritized across the curriculum as Power Standards using the Standards Editing Tool.

The Diocese of San Diego has identified two levels of power standards:P1 and P2  based on their building and diocese-wide assessments. Using their assessment data, the diocese annually prioritizes the standards to be prioritized and flags them as such.

  • P1 Standards that two more more assessments indicate is an area for focus
  • P2 Standards that one assessment indicates is an area of focus


This feature is also used to support vertical alignment of standards across grade bands. When using standards sets that apply to several grade levels, determining which standards will be prioritized at which grade levels is a key step in curriculum planning.

Jamestown School District adopted new NGSS standards, which group standard sets together by middle school (MS) and high school (HS) levels. They needed to distribute these science standards across the three grade levels and explicitly identify which grade levels will take responsibility for which standards. For middle school Life Science standards, each was flagged with: 6th, 7th and/or 8th  to indicate who is responsible for teaching which standards.


Unit Level

Any curriculum writer in Atlas can flag standards as Focus, Supporting, or any other flags identified by the school using Standards Status Management

The Diocese of Portland has created two flags for their teachers to use: Focus and Supporting based on their individual planning.

  • Focus Standards that are the focus of the unit, typically no more than 3-5 per unit
  • Supporting Standards that are addressed, introduced, or reviewed to support the teaching of the focus standard(s)


This feature is commonly used by individual teachers to organize their own standards prioritization across their course(s), but it is also frequently used by grade level and subject area teams as a collaborative tool to identify areas of focus across multiple courses. When teachers and teams are developing unit plans in Atlas, they can see which standards have been identified as a focus or as a support across their school or district, and plan accordingly.


Prioritizing Standards

Schools, teachers, and curriculum writers can apply these tools in their curriculum planning using criteria outlined by Ainsworth and Marzano in their research on prioritizing standards. These researchers identify a few key considerations for teachers and curriculum writers doing this standards work:


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To what extent will students knowledge and skills gained through this standard provide value beyond a single test?


3. Curriculum Writing

Are the knowledge and skills gleaned from a given standard applicable across disciplines?


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To what extent will the knowledge and skills learned through mastery of this standard translate to success in the next grade level?



What standards do my students need to master in order to demonstrate proficiency on benchmark assessments?

Teacher Expertise


How am I making these standards come to life in my classroom? How am I preparing my students for success through the duration of this course and into the next?

To learn more about Standards Editing Tool, Standard Status Management, or to schedule a session with a member of our Professional Development team to support the standards work in your school, contact your Atlas Account Manager.


  • Ainsworth, L. (2003). Power standards: Identifying the standards that matter the most.
  • Advanced Learning Press.
  • Marzano, R. J. (2003). What works in schools: Translating research into action. ASCD.
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