Friday, March 12, 2010

Panel Proposes Single Standard for All Schools

STOP THE PRESSES!  I had no idea that we were so close to one of the most important steps we can take to improve our educational system: national standards.  I've always thought it was completely insane in concept that there would be very different expectations in core subjects like math and reading for, say, 4th graders in Minnesota, Mississippi and Montana.  More importantly, in practice, by allowing states to set their own standards, most of them (to their everlasting disgrace) engaged in a race to the bottom.  For example, as this article points out, "Eighty-seven percent of Tennessee students scored at or above the proficiency level in math on state tests in 2005, for instance, while 21 percent did so on the federal math test."  To the best of my knowledge, most other developed countries (most of which are beating out pants off academically) set the bar high in terms of expectations and have consistent standards and basic curriculum.


Checker Finn is right:

"I'd say this is one of the most important events of the last several years in American education," said Chester E. Finn Jr., a former assistant secretary of education who has been an advocate for national standards for nearly two decades. "Now we have the possibility that for the first time, states could come together around new standards and high school graduation requirements that are ambitious and coherent. This is a big deal."

This is good news for the country, but I do understand where Jim Stergios is coming from because MA is one of the few states that, on its own, set high standards and a consistent curriculum, which is hopefully will maintain:


"We're not at all satisfied," said Jim Stergios, executive director of the Pioneer Institute, a Boston nonprofit group that helped Massachusetts revise its state benchmarks in the 1990s. "Ours in Massachusetts are much higher, so why should we adopt these?"


In fact, let's hope that the current standards being developed are just the starting point (perhaps out of political necessity) and that the bar can be steadily raised over time.


March 10, 2010

Panel Proposes Single Standard for All Schools


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