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Jargon-busting with Jim
MPR's Jim Bickal explores the depths of "exemplars," "performance packages," and "learning areas," in an effort to find the English language.
Basic skills tests:
Tests in reading, writing and math required to earn a diploma. They are designed to measure the minimum skills necessary to live and work in society. The reading and math tests are first administered in 8th grade. The writing test is given first to 10th graders. Students may retake the tests until they are able to pass.

Content standard: A subset of the learning areas. A specific achievement goal necessary to progress toward completion of the Profile of Learning. Example: Themes of U.S. History: Trace significant themes in the development of the United States. Measured through use of performance packages.

Examples of work against which to judge performance packages. Under state rules, the exemplars for standards in 9th through 12th grades "shall use outstanding work by 12th graders."

Graduation standards:
Requirements needed to earn a Minnesota high school diploma. Consists of two components: basic skills tests and higher standards, also referred to as the Profile of Learning.

Higher standards: see Profile of Learning.

Learning area:
A subset of the Profile of Learning consisting of ten groupings of content standards. They include:
  • Read, view and listen
  • Write and speak
  • Arts and literature
  • Mathematical applications
  • Inquiry
  • Scientific applications
  • People and cultures
  • Decision-making
  • Resource management
  • World languages

Performance package:
An assignment used to measure student achievement on content standards. Model performance packages have been designed by the state Department of Children, Families and Learning, but schools may design their own. Requires completion of a series of tasks that often include research of a topic and a class presentation. May be done in teams. Scored on a scale of 1 to 4 referred to as a rubric.

Profile of Learning:
A requirement for graduation beginning with the class of 2002. Consists of 48 content standards divided among ten learning areas. Students must demonstrate achievement through performance package work in 24 of the 48 standards in grades 9 through 12. Also known as `higher standards.'

The scoring system used to measure achievement on performance packages. Based on a scale of 1 to 4. A `1' represents work "significantly below the rubric for the state exemplars;" a `4' represents "work that meets or exceeds the rubric for the state exemplar score of '4'."