West Allis-West Milwaukee schools are increasingly becoming "standards based." A standards-based education is one that measures what students know and can do in a particular subject. They are based on Wisconsin Model Academic Standards, which were recently adopted by the state legislature and were developed by educators, business people, and other citizens.

The advantage of standards is that they are consistent from one classroom to another, from one school to another, and from one school district to another. Knowing specifically what it is that students are expected to know and be able to do, as defined by state and school district, allows teachers to focus their instruction on what has been determined to be important.

Standards provide a guideline for textbook adoptions and curriculum revisions. Teachers select materials based on how well they match the standards.

Standardized assessments, or testing, go hand-in-hand with academic standards. Such assessments provide parents and others with a means of determining whether or not students are learning what is taught. Standardized assessment tools enable educators to determine successes and areas in need of improvement.

Wisconsin Model Standards are also mandated by the state, and all indications are that they will be required of public schools well into the foreseeable future.