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NCTE Guideline

Opportunity-to-Learn Standards, Statement of Principles

THE NCTE Executive Committee reaffirmed this guideline in November 2012.


At a 1994 conference on Opportunity-to-Learn Standards, sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English, participants agreed that opportunity-to-learn standards provide a framework that makes it possible for all students to have equitable access to high-quality education.

Why are Opportunity-to-Learn Standards Necessary?

The opportunity to learn is the inherent right of every child in America. Educators, parents, and other members of a child's many communities share a common interest in the educational success of each child and in the role of education in our democratic society. Full, positive participation in democracy is contingent upon every child's access to quality education. Such access to high-quality education should not be dependent upon the specific community in which a child lives. By focusing and building upon the strengths of learners, Opportunity-to-learn standards can help ensure equitable access to high-quality education for all students in America.

What Should Opportunity-to-Learn Standards Do?

Opportunity-to-learn standards should:

  • enable all students to achieve high content standards and learn to their full potential
  • be directly tied to students' learning and performance in content standards
  • consider the diverse, multiple ways students learn
  • enable all teachers to teach all students
  • be supported by the best classroom practice and research
  • include on-going professional development of educators
  • be based on research on how effective schools use resources
  • address necessary conditions and resources for successful learning in our schools as well as effective use of resources, including safe, secure environments free of prejudice and violence; attractive, comfortable environments that invite learning, risk taking, and problem solving; updated library media centers and technologies
  • consider opportunities for preschool and beyond school learning

Opportunity-to-learn standards at their best should reflect America's commitment to equitable access to high-quality education for all students. States and schools that meet Opportunity-to-learn standards will enable students to become lifelong learners and lead productive, rewarding lives.


Opportunity-to-learn standards should provide:

  • time for students to learn and reflect
  • time for teachers to plan, teach, and reflect
  • appropriate learning resources
  • resources from the community

NCTE Opportunity-to-Learn/Delivery Standards Conference
Embassy Row Hotel
Washington, D.C.
July 29-31, 1994

Organizations Represented:

  • Alliance for Curriculum Reform
  • Brooks Associates, Educational Consultants
  • College Language Association
  • International Reading Association
  • Music Educators National Conference
  • National Association for Bilingual Education
  • National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
  • National Council for Geographic Education
  • National Council for the Social Studies
  • National Council of Teachers of English
  • National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
  • National Middle School Association
  • National Parent Teachers Association
  • National Science Teachers Association
  • Speech Communication Association
  • Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages

American Association of College for Teacher Education

November 8, 1995

Dr. Miles Myers
Executive Director
National Council of Teachers of English
1111 W. Kenyon Road
Urbana, IL 61801

Dear Miles:

AACTE had been asked to consider support for the statement developed by NCTE concerning Opportunity-to-Learn Standards. AACTE's Board of Directors reviewed the NCTE statement at its fall 1995 meeting, and I am pleased to inform you that our Board voted to support the statement.

Our Board and various AACTE committees have engaged in numerous discussions over the past few years concerning the issues raised by the "opportunity-to-learn" concept. We appreciate the leadership role taken by NCTE in developing this statement, and look forward to continued work with your organization and other associations in helping prepare teachers to support student learning.

David C. Imig
Chief Executive Officer

This position statement may be printed, copied, and disseminated without permission from NCTE.

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