Home > Strategies and Skill Development > Social Reasoning Strategy Families > Standard Setting

Standard-setting strategies are strategies for evaluating a text and its message in light of external standards (which may derive from a shared social context, or may need to be established and justified in the light of the details of the situation in which the text is written and read). Many different standards may be applied, depending on context and purpose: moral and ethical standards, esthetic standards, standards of efficacy or efficiency or quality in some specialized context. Such strategies share many similar cognitive elements, involving the need to provide an explicit basis for judgment, to justify the relevance and appropriateness of that basis in context, and to apply the standards to specific cases. The hypothesized development of these skills is presented in Development Table 8.

All forms of reading implicitly involve evaluation of what is read against some standard, and the process of selecting, justifying, and applying standards is a key part of the metacognition that supports efficient and purposeful reading and writing. While standard setting is not given much attention in the Common Core State Standards, it corresponds to a wide range of writing to be found in business and professional fields, as well as moral and ethical reasoning in the humanities.

Literature Note - Standard Setting

Development Table 8. Hypotheses about the Development of Standard-Setting Skills
Can evaluate whether a particular course of action is appropriate given everyday standards of effectiveness and ethics.
Can consider alternative courses of action and evaluate them in the light of everyday standards of effectiveness and ethics.
Can write a statement expressing one’s opinion about whether a particular course of action will be effective and ethical.
(fundamental literacies)
Can understand and apply explicit criteria to decide whether a particular course of action will be effective and ethical.
Can apply case-based reasoning strategies to generate criteria governing how one should act in specific cases, given examples of acceptable and unacceptable actions or outcomes.
Can write a short opinion piece justifying a recommendation in favor of a particular course of action by listing specific standards or criteria that will be satisfied by the preferred solution.
(text-based literacies)
Can consider and evaluate alternate courses of action in the light of commonly accepted criteria and desired outcomes.
Can apply causal reasoning strategies to work one’s way back from desired outcomes to criteria that are necessary to ensure success.
Can write an extended argument justifying a recommendation in favor of a particular course of action by demonstrating that it will meet certain criteria and demonstrating that these criteria are sufficient to guarantee that independently desirable goals will be met.
(multiple perspectives)
Can evaluate how a proposed course of action will be perceived by different stakeholders with different interests and success criteria.
Can apply perspective-shifting strategies to work out how different people will perceive a proposed course of action.
Can write an extended argument defending a particular course of action, balancing competing interests, and producing a recommendation that takes all relevant perspectives into account.
(discourse communities)
Can evaluate how well a particular course of action will match the standards and expectations of a particular community.
Can apply a precedent -analysis strategy to identify the criteria and interests that have emerged as crucial on similar occasions in an ongoing discourse.
Can write an extended argument defending a particular course of action and justifying it in terms of criteria and values commonly accepted in a particular discourse community, possibly by appealing to precedents and authorities commonly accepted in that community.

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