StandardConnection:Mapping NSDL Educational Objects to Content Standards.
PHASE II: An Achievement Standards Network Architecture
Standard Connection is a NSDL service project.
Following on from a project examining automatically matching learning resource descriptions with curriculum components, StandardConnection Phase2 is developing a machine addressable registry and repository of content standards and tools to use it. A content standard may perhaps be equivalent to a national curriculum programme of study in the UK. For example, in fifth year Jimmy will study algebra, one of the modules will be on quadratic equations.
Among other things the tool would allow a user to compare and match syllabi in different school districts or for different exam boards.
The longer version:
During a trip to Seattle I had the opportunity to have a chat with Stuart about some of the projects he’s working on. In the course of our discussion he talked a lot about this current project and noted that, irrespective of all the interesting and useful projects he has worked on, this project will probably be the one that has the biggest impact in the real world. If the automatic tagging works it will certainly be great, but in my opinion what it has already done is quite significant.
The project aims to “define and create:
- A machine-addressable repository of state and national organization academic content standards;
- A machine-addressable registry of alignments that relate or align those standards to each other;
- A cataloging specification using internationally accepted technical standards for metadata tagging for describing and locating NSDL and other resources according to state and national organization academic content standards: and
- A set of protocols, schemas, and program interfaces that will enable these services to communicate and resolve queries against the repositories.”
As interesting as the investigation of automatically assigned metadata in phase 1 may have been, the really cool part about this new phase is that they have put together a system that supports machine addressable mappings between different content standards – and they have some 450 such standards already stored.
This supports users if they want to compare and match standards – to translate the example into British terms: how does Kelly’s Higher compare to the first year of Mike’s A-level? And in the longer term this means that teachers dealing with young people switching between schools which follow syllabi from different different courses of study can gain an overview of what they should have studied up to that point.
A real world use Stuart cited related to a difference between a regional and federal standards for a certain grade. In the US, most schools are certified by the state and their syllabi (standards) set by state or district. If they want to receive federal funding however, the pupils progress has to be assessed at different grades (say in their 4th and 8th year) by standardised testing against a federal standard. Looking at one subject area, schools in one district where consistently performing very well against the state standard but poorly against the federal one. The registry supported a detailed comparison of the standards and demonstrated that the teaching was fine – the standards were just out of sync. If the assessment had been held at the end of the 5th year the pupils would have covered the same ground in both standards – they just covered material in a different order. The level of detailed comparison required to carry this out was made significantly easier by the registry.
In a highly mobile society this sort of development should make it much easier for pupils moving between school systems and those trying to teach them.
As an aside: Stuart’s also working on NSDL Registry: Supporting Interoperable Metadata Distribution.