Written by Kelly McCurdy, Atlas Team

Educators have been inevitably challenged with striking the intangible balance between depth and breadth of content for our students. As opportunity and innovation in the workforce expand and challenges of accelerated learning persist, the need for precision in providing our students with comprehensive breadth and meaningful depth of knowledge only continues to increase. By beginning curriculum mapping with exercising prioritization of standards, schools and teachers can mitigate the challenge of providing students with meaningful curriculum that covers the most essential standards. In Atlas, schools are provided two layers of standards prioritization that:

  • equip school-level educators with identifying Power Standards that consider a broad perspective of vertical standards alignment throughout the academic career of students, and
  • empower teachers and curriculum designers to select Focus and Supporting Standards within a single unit of study to ensure coverage and alignment across courses.
Grade 10 English Language Arts unit

In this Grade 10 English Language Arts unit, building level Power Standards are flagged with the red ⓟ. Teacher level Focus Standards have been grouped together in the top red box, and teacher level Supporting Standards have been grouped together in the lower green box. Standards not flagged with a particular status are listed below.

Power Standards | Whole School Level

Curriculum leaders can support their teachers and curriculum writers by identifying the standards to be prioritized as Power Standards. By utilizing their wide lens across grade levels and content areas, leaders can provide a guaranteed and viable curriculum (Marzano, 2003) by determining which standards ought to be prioritized by considering the following criteria:


Endurance, Leverage, ReadinessTo what extent will students’ knowledge and skills gained through this standard provide value beyond a single test?


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


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

(Ainsworth, 2003)

Standards Overview Report

In this Standards Overview report, leaders can review standards across grade levels within a single content area.

Leaders can access this feature by using the Standards Editing Tool in the Admin Dashboard of Atlas

Focus and Supporting Standards | Teacher Level

For many schools, identifying Power Standards facilitates the vertical alignment needed to meet their curricular goals, but many others choose to also incorporate teacher level identification of standards to be focused on during an individual unit of study. Once standards have been prioritized at a whole school level, or in lieu of selecting Power Standards, depending on the curricular goals of the school, teachers and curriculum writers have the tools to articulate which standards will be addressed and which will be the primary focus of each unit of study within their individual courses. 

Once turned on, teachers can continue to refine their units by prioritizing standards using the same and additional criteria:


What standards do my students need to master in order to demonstrate proficiency on benchmark assessments?image2

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?

Grade 10 English Language Arts unit

In this Grade 10 English Language Arts unit, teachers and curriculum writers can select the standards to be taught in the unit of study as well as flag those that will be the focus of the unit, and any other designation provided by leadership.

Utilization of this feature in Atlas requires a system administrator to create and define flags for teachers to select through the Standards Status Management feature in the Admin Dashboard of Atlas. For example, the standards within a unit could be identified and checked off as “Focus,” “Supporting,” or reflect a building initiative, such as “SEL,” or “Literacy”.

Continuing the Conversation | Prioritizing Curriculum Goals in Atlas

Once the initial work of prioritizing standards has been completed, continuing the conversations around prioritizing curriculum goals will ensure that the work invested remains current and meaningful. Use our Guide to Prioritizing Curriculum Goals in Atlas to use your curriculum maps as a tool to guide teachers in building skills and working towards essential learning.


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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