Monday, November 07, 2005

Every State Left Behind

What a disgrace!
Almost all states report that, based on their own tests, incredibly large proportions of their students meet high standards. Yet the scores on the federal test (which was given to a representative sample of fourth and eighth graders) were far lower. Basically, the states have embraced low standards and grade inflation.
Hear, hear!

Unfortunately, the political calculations that resulted in the No Child Left Behind law adopting a strategy of letting the states choose their own standards and tests remain the reality. In general, Republicans are wary of national standards and a national curriculum, while Democrats are wary of testing in general. Both parties must come to understand that the states are not competing with each other to ratchet up student achievement. Instead, they are maintaining standards that meet the public's comfort level.

America will not begin to meet the challenge of developing the potential of our students until we have accurate reporting about their educational progress. We will not have accurate reporting until that function is removed from the constraints of state and local politics. We will be stuck with piecemeal and ineffective reforms until we agree as a nation that education - not only in reading and mathematics, but also science, history, literature, foreign languages and the arts - must be our highest domestic priority.

November 7, 2005, NY Times

Every State Left Behind

WHILE in office, Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton both called for national academic standards and national tests in the public schools. In both cases, the proposals were rejected by a Congress dominated by the opposing party. The current President Bush, with a friendly Congress in hand, did not pursue that goal because it is contrary to the Republican Party philosophy of localism. Instead he adopted a strategy of "50 states, 50 standards, 50 tests" - and the evidence is growing that this approach has not improved student achievement. Americans must recognize that we need national standards, national tests and a national curriculum.

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