Search form

Aligning Goals, Objectives and Standards in Lesson Plans

When developing lesson plans and curriculum, you often hear educators talk about making sure things are aligned.  “Alignment is the process of ensuring that the specified curriculum is consistent with enabling students to reach the milestones outlined in the standards” (Center on Standards and Assessments Implementation, 2019, p.1).  Often, this means that educators are focused on making sure the objective and assessment for the lesson plan are in sync.  This element of alignment in a lesson plan is important, but it is equally important to ensure that the goals, objectives, and standards of your lesson are aligned as well. 

The goals, objectives and standards components of a lesson plan help to guide the direction of your lesson plan; therefore, it is essential to make sure they are all connected to the same concepts.  The goal of a lesson plan is the target you are trying to reach.  It helps to provide the framework that you will use when developing your lesson objective.  The lesson objective is a clear and measurable statement that tells you what the students will be able to do at the end of the lesson.  Finally, the standards are clear written descriptions, developed by each state, of what a child should be able to do at a particular age (early learning standards) or grade level (K-12 standards).  Since all these components are focused on the overall concept of the lesson, they must be related, or aligned in the same areas.

So, what do we mean by alignment?  Simply put, we mean that they all need to be focused on the same area of development or academic concept.  For example, if your goal is on sequencing a story, create an objective about how students would demonstrate their knowledge of sequencing a story.  “When aligned, the major course components work together to ensure that students achieve the desired learning objectives” (Engage, 2019, para. 3).  In addition, you would need to locate a state standard that was focused on sequencing the events in a story.  When all of these elements of a lesson plan are connected, the lesson will flow smoothly, and your students will have a greater chance at mastering the lesson objective.

On the other hand, when there is not alignment amongst the goals, objectives and standards of a lesson plan, the lesson becomes disjointed.  If you have a goal focused on identifying the beginning, middle and ending sounds in a word, an objective centered around reading sight words, and a standard about writing letters, you will not know which direction the lesson plan is headed.  The lesson does not clearly address if one is teaching sounds, reviewing sight words, or writing letters.   

Alignment in a lesson plan ensures that all the components are working together to support student success.  If you start with aligned goals, objectives, and standards, you will set your lessons up for success!

Written by Jennifer Zaur, MA, Education World Contributing writer.

Jennifer is an Assistant Professor, Department of Education and Liberal Arts at the University of Arizona Global Campus.

Copyright© 2021 Education World


Center on Standards and Assessments Implementation (CSAI), & WestEd. (2018, March). Standards Alignment to Curriculum and Assessment. CSAI Update. In Center on Standards and Assessments Implementation. Center on Standards and Assessments Implementation.

Engage, D. T. (2019, November 15). Learning objectives & alignment. Design Teach Engage.