Standards vs Guidelines

People are often unsure of the difference between content standards, performance guidelines and proficiency guidelines, and how they all relate to and build off each other.  While detailed definitions of each of these terms are provided within this glossary, this entry attempts to quickly explain the difference and how they work together to form the basis of language education.

Working Together
Teachers will recognize the influence of the proficiency guidelines within the standards, particularly in the area of communication.  However, in keeping with the attempt to create a broadly conceived standards, communication is organized around a framework of interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational modes, rather than carved into seperate skill areas of listening, speaking, reading and writing. The performance guidelines directly relate to the content standards by defining "how well" students can be expected to do the "what" from the content standards.  As with the content standards, the guidelines are articulated according to the communicative modes. 

A much more in depth discussion of this relationship, how the standards came about and the implications of the standards is discussed in the Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century Executive Summary, available for free in the resources area.