Sent to USA Today, March 11
I hope readers understand what the adoption of national standards really means: As National Governors Association education director Dane Linn noted in "Tougher national education standards drafted, posted," (March 10), new standards means "improved" standardized tests.
Since the new standards will cover grades K-12, there is the possibility of required standardized tests in every grade. NCLB, heavily criticized because of the massive amount of testing it involved, required standardized tests only grades 3 through 8 and one year in high school.
We can also expect standards and tests in all subjects: The Common Core Standards Initiative FAQ document tells us that once English and math standards are completed, standards will be developed in "science and potentially additional subject areas." NCLB required tests only in English and math.
It is very possible that our children, already badly over-tested, will be subjected to far more standardized testing than ever before, far more than has ever been done in the history of American education.
Is this what we want for our children?
Tougher national education standards drafted, posted
By Greg Toppo, USA TODAY
A year-long effort to lay out the first national standards for schoolchildren in the USA got a full-scale airing Wednesday, as groups developing the measures posted detailed drafts of math and English standards online.
The public can comment until April 2. Final versions are expected by May.
The move comes as education reformers and lawmakers complain that many states have watered-down expectations in the face of a decade-long federal push to get greater percentages of students scoring higher on state skills tests. No Child Left Behind, the school reform law passed by Congress in 2001, requires 100% of students master state standards by 2014.
The new push, spearheaded by the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers, seeks to refocus the debate. The governors association's Dane Linn said Wednesday that educators were demanding "fewer, clearer and higher" standards that are uniform nationwide, giving students in urban, suburban and rural school districts equal access to high-quality material.
"It does not matter what your ZIP code is," Linn said.
But Linn also said the standards would require new efforts to improve textbooks, data systems and standardized tests, among other areas.
Forty-eight states have pledged to adopt the standards — only Texas and Alaska have bowed out. In November, Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott said the effort "can be seen as a step toward a federal takeover of the nation's public schools."
Kentucky last month became the first to adopt the standards.
President Obama has made adoption of the standards a key metric in whether states qualify for a share of the $4.35 billion Race to the Top federal grant money.
The draft language-arts standards are "pretty darned impressive," said Chester Finn, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank that has supported the effort. "They've supplied plenty of compelling examples of what kids at various levels should be reading. And they haven't overpromised."
Finn, who said he hasn't read the math standards, added that "millions of American kids would be far better off in schools adhering to these standards than they are today."
Vermont educator and blogger Susan Ohanian, who has decried the effort's high-profile foundation and corporate support, said Wednesday, "No matter how many of our favorite books we see on their list, it is ludicrous for corporate politicos to ship reading lists to children they do not know."