Written by Sarah Hanna, Faria Education Group

So Many Standards, So Little Time

Aligning units of instruction to a set of standards is an important part of the curriculum mapping process. Most teachers and administrators would agree on the value of adhering to standards as a means to creating consistent learning targets that represent what students should know and be able to do. However, the vast number of standards within each subject area can leave teachers frustrated and perplexed, trying to discern which ones deserve the greatest priority and why. The result can be to cover the standards without necessarily exploring the breadth and depth necessary to fully develop competency. 

The Solution: Prioritizing Standards

Faced with the problem of too little teaching time to adequately engage an abundance of standards, many schools have turned to prioritizing standards as a valuable and collaborative solution.

Prioritizing standards involves working as a teaching team across grades and/or subjects, and collaboratively identifying which standards deserve greatest priority. These standards have a variety of popular names, such as: Priority, Core, Essential or Power Standards.

How Atlas Facilitates Power Standards

In Atlas, we are launching a feature called “Standards Status Management.” Within the Admin section, the feature allows curriculum developers to distinguish the standards by up to three unique designators/flags, such as “Priority,” “Supporting,” and “Additional.” School can identify the label that best fits their preferences. The standards will receive a specific letter symbol and color to showcase and represent the status of that standard. 

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A Difference You Can See

Within the Develop tab, teachers will be able to select and see the three standards statuses differentiated in their unit planner, and organized according to priority. In addition to aligning their units to prioritize learning targets, teachers will also be able to build essential and supporting standards into their assessments. If a teacher wants to make sure the priority standards are all assessed, this will be easy to discern. 

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In Standards Analytics, teachers and administrators can view and filter by these flags to see where and how in the curriculum these essential/power standards are targeted and assessed.

Empowering the Teacher, Lightening the Standards Load

Identifying core standards can be a very helpful activity for schools. When the process is collaborative and clearly communicated, curriculum developers will know which standards to prioritize and will be able to build their units of instruction with this knowledge in mind. In addition, teachers will feel empowered to make prioritization decisions based on what their students need. We are excited that schools will now have that ability in Atlas! 

More About Atlas Standards & Services

The Faria Curriculum & Atlas Standards Teams supports schools around the world by providing sets of national, international and organizational standards. The Atlas Standards Team maintains over 607 different sets of global standards, encompassing over 1.5 million individual standards, and updates and adds new standards daily.

Based in Portland, Oregon, the Atlas Standards Team is composed of former teachers, many join the team with experience in K-12 and higher education. All of our global educators have implemented and developed standards within their institution. The core focus and expertise of the Atlas Standards Team centers around standards in the United States, Australia, Canada, and the UK.

FariaPD supports teachers and leaders around the world with hands-on, active and creative professional development experiences. Join one of our online or in-person professional development events, each designed to support the unique goals of your school or district. FariaPD is part of Faria Education Group, an international education company that provides services and systems for schools around the world including ManageBac, a curriculum-first learning platform, OpenApply, an online admissions service, and Atlas, a tailored curriculum management solution for schools.

Sarah Hanna


An ardent believer in the value of lifelong learning, growth, and knowledge share, Sarah has collaborated with Atlas schools for over ten years, providing support and expertise on their standards alignment and analysis process, advising on best practices, and supporting schools through workshops, writing, and education research. Sarah enjoys speaking with teachers and administrators directly, to build understanding about their schools curriculum process and learning target needs.

She also conducts copyright research and works with national and international education organizations to gain permission for, and understanding about, the sets of standards third party organizationssuch as NCCAS, WIDA, C3, and State Departments of Educationcan provide to best support schools who are mapping with Atlas. Sarah earned her Bachelor’s degree in Speech Communication and her Master’s in Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS), both from Oregon State University. Her MAIS focused within the Speech Communication and MBA programs.

She has eight years of experience teaching Communication courses in higher education. Sarah has also taught persuasion and public speaking to grade school students, and has been an Art Literacy teacher in her local elementary school the last seven years. A fan of the oral and written traditions of story telling, Sarah believes there is great value in continually building and honing one’s listening and speaking skills.

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