I posted an entry Tuesday on the first draft of common academic standards for our nation’s k-12 schools. I was surprised at the criticisms of such standards, believing that it makes sense for students to learn to the highest possible standards and that those standards ought to be the same whether in Dalton or Dallas or Atlanta or Annapolis.
Not so, said several posters. National standards represent socialism. They will weaken rigor rather than reinforce it.
There were several compelling posts and I am highlighting two of them here. My thanks to Tony and Dr. Pohl for such thoughtful posts:
The purpose of the development of so-called national standards is so we can institute a national test. Testing does not improve student achievement. Testing will not solve the problems that cause schools to have low achievement. Testing will not make kids smarter.
Some have referenced “a level playing field.” Do you know how a field is leveled? Dirt is moved from higher areas to lower areas. That is exactly what will happen with student achievement. The areas that see higher achievement will see decreases and the areas with low achievement may see increases. In other words, this will be the ultimate assault that will dumb down education.
No to national standards.
Dr. Pohl’s comment:
A national test would save us enormous amounts of money. It costs mega-millions for each state to develop its own 5th grade math or 11th grade grammar questions. WHY do we need 50 versions? Can’t we all agree on what a 5th or 11th grader should know in the core subjects? Of course, we already HAVE good national tests (e.g., ITBS or MAP, but especially the excellent NAEP tests). Let’s use them, but smartly, remembering their limitations.
What’s more, since the major text books are sold nationally, we already have an implicit national curriculum, and thus implicit national standards. Unfortunately the textbook contents are determined by a very few narrow-minded state boards of education (not educators) of the publishers’ biggest customers, i.e., Texas and California. I, for one, would prefer a thoughtful, diverse group of folks from across the nation determining curriculum and standards for our nation’s children, rather than the way it’s determined now.
Having local control of education strikes me as absurd in a country where people are frequently moving from state to state. Is geometry or chemistry or US history really different across state lines? Would it not make sense for families who move around to have their kids ease into the transition from school to school by facing a similar curriculum? And as many commentators here have already pointed out, what Georgia employers expect as job-related skills is surely no different from what Massachusetts employers look for. Local control once made sense when folks stayed pretty close to home. It doesn’t make sense in the 21st Century.