Get ready for national reading, math standards

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Sunday the government will spend up to $350 million to develop national standards in reading and math.

Duncan has long said learning expectations vary too widely from one state to another. What is considered passing in Georgia, may be failing in another state.

The idea is to develop uniform learning benchmarks and to spend up to $350 million developing tests to assess the new standards. The money comes from some of the stimulus funds designed to reward states that implement innovations backed by the administration.

Duncan spoke at the National Governors Association education symposium. Gov. Sonny Perdue’s office sent out a release Friday saying he would be at the event.

Georgia is among the states that have committed to the concept of national standards. (Alaska, Missouri, Texas and South Carolina have not.)

Getting states to agree to the concept is one thing. Getting them to agree on what the national standards should look like will be a greater challenge.

What do you think the standards should look like? What should this nation expect of students in reading and math at the end of elementary school, middle school and high school?

32 comments Add your comment

ScienceTeacher671

June 15th, 2009
9:34 am

Note that most of the money is actually going, not to develop the standards, but to develop tests to assess the standards. Duncan thinks it’s going to be cheap and easy to develop the standards themselves.

Martina

June 15th, 2009
9:51 am

I wish national standards would be implemented. I spend time teaching 3rd graders to know about Greek architecture and the Georgia regions, and they don’t even know they live in North America. I think we can all agree that there is certain cultural and academic knowledge that EVERY child should know and use our time to educate them to be well-rounded citizens. Otherwise, we get the comedians on the street interviewing people that have NO CLUE about general knowledge.

FLAWoodLayer

June 15th, 2009
10:07 am

National standards are a start but we are competing internationally. I hope these “international” standards are taken into account. Ironically, I notice science is not mentioned. As long as we have states that are afraid to say Darwin we will continue to sag further behind. Look at the states that are not aboard. Alaska= Palin, SC= Gov. I Don’t Want Stimulus Funds, Texas= Gov. We Might Secede. Can we not get over the politics? Is it not supposed to be about the students?

Ernest

June 15th, 2009
10:29 am

I believe having a combination of state, national, and international standards in place is a good start. One would think we already have something like this in place that should require some ‘tweaking’ so it could be applicable across the board. It is something that should continue to evolve over time.

We currently have different measurement instruments in place (I really like the ITBS) however because there are not consistent standards, it makes in difficult to interpret the results. How an we put effective remediation strategies in place if standards are inconsistent?

There will be some that will not like the idea of a ’standard’ because it may expose inadequacies. Part of the ‘intent’ with NCLB was to present disaggregated data instead of simply summarized data so that students having challenges could be identified. It will be interesting to see how we proceed with this initiative.

Will Jones - Atlanta

June 15th, 2009
10:42 am

Many of you know nothing about the price of tea in china, let alone standardized or national requirements for testing. Please shut up!

catlady

June 15th, 2009
10:48 am

This just shows how out of touch some people are.

My question is: Whose friends and family will be rewarded THIS time? Who will get the huge payouts for the materials to teach and test? Will this be another NCBL/RF debacle?

irisheyes

June 15th, 2009
10:50 am

I think some national standards are a good idea. But why in the world are we spending $350 million to develop assessments? Don’t we already have nationally normed assessments? Couldn’t those be tweaked to align with national standards once they are written? Oh wait, I forgot, that money needs to go to educational “think tanks” who think they know all about teaching even though they haven’t stepped foot in a classroom for 30 years.

BTW, speaking of people who don’t know what they’re talking about, anyone read Maureen Downey’s column today? Once again, it’s “Bash the Teacher Monday”! (She ought to make it a national holiday.)

irisheyes

June 15th, 2009
10:51 am

Hopefully, my comment will show up sometime! AJC, get the bugs out or go back to the old system!

[...] Get Schooled | ajc.com – [...]

Cere

June 15th, 2009
12:14 pm

So, Arne Duncan figured out that states have been dumbing down their tests in order to make AYP and avoid sanctions. Thus the cheating!

Standards is one thing. Testing and implementing sanctions is quite another. Check out my comments on the Pay Teachers $125,000 thread to see how much money it is costing states and local school districts to implement the testing demands of NCLB. The federal reimbursement does not cover the costs – we are digging a big hole for our state in order to pay for the tests and “standards” to go with. There is a growing consensus who believe that the goal of NCLB is to dismantle public schools and line the pockets of corporate “charter” school companies and testing companies. Big – BIG – bucks!

For a real paradigm shift, check out this blog – (use this article for starters and then work your way around…)

http://schoolsmatter.blogspot.com/2009/06/350m-for-world-class-test-0-for-world.html

Cere

June 15th, 2009
12:24 pm

That said, we do need to get back to basics as indicated by Martina. It’s astounding what kids do not know – there are huge gaps in understanding geography, history and its relevance to today’s world, and current events.

Have you ever watched Jay Leno do his “Jay-Walking” schtick?

David S

June 15th, 2009
12:37 pm

Since all of you are so well educated that you feel confortable commenting on this piece, would one of you care to specifically cite what article or section of the US Constitution gives the Federal Government the right to involve itself in education?

Its not going to be possible to do that because there is no place that authorizes such activity.

This is just another feel good measure to funnel tons of cash into the hands of bureaucrats and test makers while doing nothing to improve education. The sooner parents wake up and realize that centrally controlled and managed ANYTHING is a failure, the sooner american can get the Federal Government out of the education business. The next step should be to get the states out of the business and to return all educational control to the parents and the free market.

The free market has been the greatest source of advancement and properity in the world’s history and government has been on the opposite end of that progress scale.

jim d

June 15th, 2009
1:10 pm

I’m not sure what they SHOULD look like but I am CERTAIN of what they will look like. (hammered on dog s_it)

It's Monday, so Maureen's bashing teachers

June 15th, 2009
1:23 pm

It’s Monday, so of course another column from Maureen “blame teachers first” Downey who whines that it sounds like she’s bashing teachers. Well if you don’t want to sound like you’re bashing teachers, stop bashing them.

No Maureen, most teachers aren’t complaining about students, they are, legitimately I might add, upset with the fact that they are being tasked with too often making up for deficits at home, without being given the authority to maintain the discipline needed to do so.

Of course you won’t address that, because then you couldn’t bash teachers.

jim d

June 15th, 2009
1:25 pm

Will we ever learn from our past?

http://www.crossroad.to/text/articles/tnmfobe1196.html

This is where we are headed folks. THINK about it!!

jim d

June 15th, 2009
1:32 pm

“How fortunate for leaders that men do not think.”

Adolf Hitler

jim d

June 15th, 2009
1:39 pm

the more i ponder the question the more certain i am that any national education standards will have to be minimal–robbing us even further of the most gifted students we have in this country.

jim d

June 15th, 2009
1:43 pm

this could be serious Album graecum

dbow

June 15th, 2009
2:14 pm

Let’s not forget that states do not have to partake in any government sponsored education initiatives. Since the federal govt. has no real power all they do is wave money at the states or threaten to take away federal dollars. The states are so afraid of losing the pennies that the feds dole out that they never say no. Look it up if you don’t believe me. We do not have to abide by any federal education mandates, we just have to say no to their money.

jim d

June 15th, 2009
2:57 pm

dbow,

Their money? hmm. wasn’t aware they had any of their own, thought it was ours.

catlady

June 15th, 2009
2:59 pm

I believe we DO have to honor IDEA.

Classroom Teacher

June 15th, 2009
3:17 pm

catlady…those funds are separate from NCLB money.

Classroom Teacher

June 15th, 2009
3:17 pm

Enter your comments here

It's Monday, so Maureen's bashing teachers

June 15th, 2009
3:20 pm

irisheyes,

My apologies for stepping on your line about Mondays and Downey. I did not read your post before I posted, but glad to see that others see this as well. If you look at the AJC Conversation Starter blog with Ken Foskett last week, even he admits Downey and the rest of the board have never supported teachers in an editorial, and could offer no excuse for it.

Reality2

June 15th, 2009
4:48 pm

I think a common standards is a good thing.

David S.
This time around, it’s the governers who decided to join together to form a common standards, not a national standards. Duncan is willing to support those governors, so I don’t necessarily think it goes against the Constitution. On the other hand, I don’t see why we can’t amend the constitution. After all, it’s a 200+ years old documents, and I don’t see why we shouldn’t be modifying it to fit today’s society. But, I’m sure that is a whole different point of discussion.

It does cost money to create a good assessment instrument – specially if you want those items to be publicly released, etc. So, you can’t complain about how awful a test like CRCT is and then turn around and complain about how expensive it is to develop “just a test.”

Public school parent

June 15th, 2009
8:23 pm

While I see value in having more uniform standards in math so our Georgia high schoolers can return to taking real mathematics rather than this mish mash of Math du jour created by our own GA DOE educrats, I am concerned about creating even more standardized testing. More standardized testing means more “teaching to the test” and could lead to more scripted teaching.

In the meantime, GA should dump the CRCT and use the ITBS as our testing standard for AYP.

Cere

June 15th, 2009
8:39 pm

I figured I’d go ahead and repost the data regarding exactly how much money it is costing states (beyond federal funding) to implement NCLB — this data is coming in from a 5 year study by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) – It’s really unimaginable why we continue to participate – like lemmings – in these unfunded federal initiatives. =====

In September 2005, the Virginia Department of Education released a cost study that found that local school divisions will have to spend $62 million, $60 million, $61 million and $65 million more than they are receiving from the federal government, through fiscal year 2008, to administer NCLB.

New Mexico conducted a cost study in May 2005 that found the state was going to have to spend $37 million, $31 million and $26 million more than it is receiving in new federal dollars for 2003-2005 school years, respectively.

The Connecticut State Department of Education reported that through FY 08, it will cost the state approximately $41.6 million to administer NCLB. These are state level costs only; a report on local costs for just three school districts found an additional unmet cost of $22.6 million. The study covers the costs of meeting the law’s requirements (i.e. compliance cost) but does not cover what the state will have to spend to actually get students to pass grade level tests and close the achievement gap (i.e. proficiency costs).

In July 2004, a study commissioned by the Hawaii legislature found it would cost $191 million between 2003-2008 to meet the requirements of NCLB. Developmental costs were estimated at an additional $24.6 million.

The Minnesota State Auditor found difficulties with NCLB regulations to be widespread, including the testing of students with disabilities and limited English proficient students. The February 2004 State Auditor report estimated the cost to the state for student testing alone to be $19 million annually.

The state of Ohio commissioned an NCLB cost study to investigate how much the law’s regulations would cost Ohio. In December 2003, they found that $1.4 billion annually would be placed on the backs of Ohio taxpayers to comply with all of NCLB’s rules and regulations through the 2013-2014 school year.

Tony

June 16th, 2009
7:39 am

National standards are not worth the cost. They will only contribute to the further dumbing of our society. Because it has been stated up front that the true intention is to design “better tests” (there really is no such thing), then everyone should be leery!

As others have brought attention to Ms. Downey’s lofty words on Monday, I want to add my thoughts, too. I have yet to meet a teacher that doesn’t want to make a difference for the children in their charge. They all work diligently to provide the best lessons possible, coach the children to success, encourage them to work hard, and give them guidance on life’s issues. What Ms. Downey is doing with her OpEd piece is playing down the disastrous effect of the social factors outside of school that greatly reduce children’s chances of success and she places the entire hope of those children’s futures squarely in the hands of teachers.

Yes. There are teachers who are truly astonishing in their abilities to pull kids out of the mire of despair and give them hope for a future. The bottome line, though, is that the families and communities of the children have more to do with long-term success. Until our society addresses these root causes, schools can not be held responsible for everything in each child’s life.

While it is a lofty goal that all teachers nurture every child, even the ones who are unfed, unwashed, and unwanted, this goal can not be achieved solely through a better interview process. It’s time for people to get their heads out of the clouds and offer real help to the children who are being cast away by our society and stop blaming teachers.

Cere

June 16th, 2009
8:20 am

As I read your post, Tony, it occurred to me that there is much opportunity for churches to support teachers in these efforts to nurture the unfed, unwashed and unwanted. After school programs featuring healthy snacks and help with homework would be a ‘godsend’. I was reading about a big, wealthy church downtown (North Ave) who upon finding teen prostitutes working the streets surrounding the church – opened their doors to these girls and is doing what they can to help.

If families can’t take care of their children – and teachers can’t carry the entire load – how about some help from our huge supply of churches?

ScienceTeacher671

June 16th, 2009
9:11 am

Public School Parent, the DOE can’t “dumb down” the ITBS to make Georgia schools look better when they aren’t.

That’s one reason I’m leery of, yet hopeful about, this national standards movement, and a bit amazed that so many states are participating…surely not every state is going to want to be dumbed down to Georgia’s level, but at least at the beginning, I don’t see how our Georgia students will be able to compare well to those in other states…

Pretending

June 16th, 2009
1:22 pm

To pretend you can have a conversation about improving public school education without making discipline the number one priority is to do just that. Pretend.

Reality2

June 16th, 2009
4:16 pm

Public School Parents,

In case you don’t know, Math I is real mathematics – topics discussed in Math I are the same topics that were discussed in the “traditional” math courses.