According to National Science Teachers' Association of America (NSTA), standards quite simply refer to the level of quality. Further, Cars and Harris see standards as the basic structure from which a deep and rich local curriculum can be built.
Cullickson defines standards as 'a principle or specification or norm or criterion mutually agreed to by people engaged in professional practice, if met, will enhance quality'. He further says that for writing a standard, a statement is expressed in a sentence with two parts. The first part identifies the standard in the form of 'should statement' while the second part justifies the standard by an expression 'so that'. Thus a standard is 'a description of the expected level of performance or criterion in relation to a critical level of performance.' A standard when viewed in this form is a 'criterion – reference' in which performance is interpreted in relation to a pre – specified expected levels.
When viewed from the stand–point of standards, curriculum is regarded as a set of age-appropriate knowledge, skills, attitudes, behaviours and values which students are expected to learn, and therefore, include the statements of expected student outcomes, description of materials and activities. In other words, curriculum is a planned sequence of all the activities in an institution that will be used to help students acquire the expected outcomes.
According to Harward Gardner, standards are the key to the progressive education. And, in the absence of such standards, education can become an excuse for laiseez–faire and anarchy. Further, standards cannot be imposed from without; they must arise naturally, as students and teachers work together over time in an atmosphere of mutual respect.