Standards Plus Instructional Materials Overview

What are Standards Plus Instructional Materials?

Standards Plus instructional materials follow a direct instruction intervention process that is designed to supplement a school’s regular curricula and its instructional program. The foundation of this process is a quality assurance system built on the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle that effectively delivers high level standards-driven skills to students. The PDCA cycle is the key element of Total Quality Management (TQM) which comes from the work of W. Edward Deming and Walter Shewhart (Fields, 1993).  Even though Deming’s Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle was developed in industrial and business settings, it is also extremely effective in educational settings.  Deming’s basic philosophy on quality was that productivity improves as variability decreases. Deming’s Total Quality Management (TQM) System is based on “14 Essential Points” for improving quality, productivity, and competitive position in all aspects of education. The critical points affecting education include:

  • Create constancy of purpose
  • Improve continually
  • Institute training on the job
  • Institute leadership

Another theory behind the design of the Standards Plus process came from the research work of Ron Edmonds and Lawrence Lezotte (Lezotte, 1984, and Lezotte and Daniel Levine, 1990).  They identified characteristics of effective schools which they called the Effective Schools Correlates (Levine and Lezotte, 1995; Norris, 1988; Lezotte, 1984.)  These correlates are widely supported in research literature and have led to a national organization called the Network for Effective Schools.  These correlates include the following:

  • School climate
  • Instructional focus
  • Instructional leadership
  • High expectations
  • Measurement

The Standards Plus implementation model employs the Plan-Do-Check-Act and the Effective Schools Correlates through a quality assurance implementation model.  The model includes the following elements.


  • Review student achievement data to identify strengths and weaknesses in alignment with local and state criteria.
  • Arrange learning topics into an instructional calendar that aligns with students’ strengths and weaknesses based on the data analysis.


  • Teach mini-lessons in Language Arts and Mathematics that are aligned to the instructional calendar each day for four consecutive days.
  • Monitor the process to ensure quality implementation.


  • Administer a Standards Plus mini-assessment after a four lesson unit.
  • Analyze mini-assessment results and schedule unsuccessful students into re-teach sessions.


  • Teach maintenance and reinforcement lessons as they appear on the instructional calendar.
  • Conduct targeted re-teach interventions.

The Standards Plus implementation model requires explicit direct instruction of up to 170, ten-minute mini-lessons and assessments per grade based on a data-driven schedule. The lessons are aligned to discrete elements of essential state standards in Language Arts and Mathematics. The instructional schedule is based on student needs identified by thoughtful analysis of local and state testing results.

When implementing the model, teachers teach one Standards Plus mini-lesson each day for each subject to supplement their regular curriculum (Language Arts and Mathematics).  The lessons have explicit lesson plans for teachers. The lesson plans identify the focus of the lesson and target key instructional objectives.  The lessons also are designed to require minimal teacher preparation.

A group of three or four Standards Plus lessons and a four-item testlet are written as a unit for each specified essential standard.  A testlet is a group of items related to a single concept (Wainer and Kiely, 1987). Teachers teach a three or four lesson unit, one lesson at a time, on consecutive days.  After teaching a unit, teachers administer the corresponding testlet on the following day.

An essential element of the process is for teachers to review testlet results to assess student performance.  Based on their analysis, teachers can decide whether to re-teach the concept to the whole class, or to subsets of the class.  Almost every concept in the Standards Plus system is taught again as a maintenance lesson.  Students who do not demonstrate mastery of the skill during maintenance lesson instruction participate in another re-teach session. This research-based cyclical approach ensures that students who require extra instruction of a given standard are given multiple opportunities to learn the concept (Marzano, 2003; Snow, 2003).