About the Benchmark Map for Language Arts


The benchmark map is intended for use with the Hawaii Content and Performance Standards III (HCPS III). The HCPS III establishes four taxonomic levels at which students need to demonstrate proficiency. The taxonomic level is reflected in the benchmarks.

  • Level I:      Knowledge retrieval (reflected in verbs like give, list, name.)
  • Level II:   Comprehension (reflected in verbs like explain, identify, illustrate)
  • Level III:   Analysis (reflected in verbs like classify, compare, differentiate)

o       Level IV:   Knowledge utilization (reflected in verbs like classify with justification, investigate, use to determine)


The HCPS III is organized into the following components:


The “big ideas” that define a content area.

Content Standard

A broad statement of what a student needs to know or be able to do at the end of K-12 schooling.


A category under which related benchmarks are grouped.

Grade-level benchmark

A specific statement of what a student should know or be able to do at a specific grade level or grade level cluster.

Sample Performance Assessment

A generalized description of how a student can demonstrate significant aspects of the benchmark.


A tool to assess the quality of a student’s achievement of the benchmarks at the specified taxonomic level.


What is a benchmark map?

A benchmark map suggests a cluster of benchmarks and a possible quarter for assessing that cluster of benchmarks. The benchmark maps in the Language Arts consist of two parts:

Big Idea(s)/Major Understanding(s): These are the big generalizations for the topic or content of the language arts. Further elaboration of the big idea(s) or major understanding(s) can be found in the curriculum frameworks. In the Language Arts, these statements also imply the General Learner Outcome(s). Schools with “I Can” statements will find correspondences between the “I Can” statements and these generalizations.


The benchmark clusters: The clusters are suggested groupings of the benchmarks. They are distributed among the quarters of the year to suggest points for assessing student progress on the benchmarks. The clusters were suggested by department heads and grade level chairpersons who gathered at a series of six meetings between October 25, 2005 and December 1, 2005.


How can the benchmark map be used?

The benchmark map can be used to plan and guide decisions about curriculum. The level of knowledge reflected in the benchmark guides decisions about the amount of time and practice needed for students to demonstrate proficiency on the benchmark. The benchmark maps should not be used to make decisions about individual students; decisions about individual students should be made by a team using multiple indicators of student strengths and weaknesses.


How are the benchmarks in Language Arts organized?

Figure 1 (next page) provides an overview of the K-12 benchmarks in the seven standards of the HCPS III Language Arts standards. These seven standards are:

Reading:                         1.  Conventions and Skills

                                       2.  Comprehension

                                       3.  Literary Response and Analysis

Writing:                          4.  Conventions and Skills

                                       5.  Rhetoric

Oral Communication:     6.  Conventions and Skills

                                       7.  Rhetoric

Each benchmark is identified with a 3-letter or number code. For example, K.1.1 indicates the first benchmark in Strand 1 (Reading, Conventions and Skills) in kindergarten. The matrix also shows seven benchmarks in Strand 3 (Literary Response and Analysis) in Grade 5 and benchmarks 5.3.1, 5.3.2 and 5.3.3 in Interpretive Stance.


Where can I get more information?

Schools can contact the Language Arts Specialist at 733-9141 ext 222. Schools can also email Petra Schatz, Language Arts Specialist via Lotus Notes.




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Kendall, J.S. & Marzano, R.J. (2004). Content knowledge; A compendium of standards and benchmarks for K-12 education, 4th Ed. Aurora, CO: Mid-continent Resources for Education and Learning. Available at www.mcrel.org/compendium/kSkillsIntro.asp.


Snow, C.E., Burns, M.S., & Griffin, P. (Eds). (1998). Preventing reading difficulties in young children. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press. Available at http://www.nap.edu/catalog/6023.html.


State of Hawaii (2004). Curriculum framework for beginning reading instruction. Honolulu, HI: Department of Education. Available at


State of Hawaii (2004). Curriculum framework for language arts. Honolulu, HI: Department of Education. Available at http://standardstoolkit.k12.hi.us/sdb/docs/CF_LA_select.pdf.