Monday, June 1, 2009

46 States, D.C. Plan to Draft Common Education Standards

The following excerpt of a longer piece by Washington Post staff writer Maria Glod entitled "46 States, D.C. Plan to Draft Common Education Standards" discusses an ambitious plan to essentially create a national curriculum. In the past, there has been both strong support and opposition to such a nationalized curriculum. On one hand, supporters claim that having a uniformed body of knowledge for all students in the United States to learn is one way of assuring quality and more effective at comparing schools, districts, states, etc. Those in opposition usually point to local control and the fact that education in the United States is funded primarily through state government (roughly 93% of education is funded by the state and 7% from the federal government) and states and regions have unique educational needs and goals. In any case, this looks like perhaps the most significant attempt to draft set of national educational standards in a number of generations. It should be interesting how to watch how it develops. This will not impact the new Hoboken Curriculum in the short run and only time will tell what modifications will have to be made down the road. Those modifications will likely include changing state testing-- a process that can take quite a long time. My guess is that no mandatory requirements will filter to the states for at least 3 years. -Dr. Petrosino

Forty-six states and the District of Columbia today will announce an effort to craft a single vision for what children should learn each year from kindergarten through high school graduation, an unprecedented step toward a uniform definition of success in American schools. The push for common reading and math standards marks a turning point in a movement to judge U.S. children using one yardstick that reflects expectations set for students in countries around the world at a time of global competition. Today, each state decides what to teach in third-grade reading, fifth-grade math and every other class. Critics think some set a bar so that students can pass tests but, ultimately, are ill-prepared.

Led by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, the states, including Maryland and Virginia, are aiming to define a framework of content and skills that meet an overarching goal. When students get their high school diplomas, the coalition says, they should be ready to tackle college or a job. The benchmarks would be "internationally competitive."

Once the organizers of the effort agree to a proposal, each state would decide individually whether to adopt it.The nearly complete support of governors for the effort -- leaders in Texas, Alaska, Missouri and South Carolina are the only ones that have not signed on -- is key. Many Republicans oppose nationally mandated standards, saying schools should not be controlled by Washington. But there is broad support for a voluntary effort that bubbles up from the states.

"This is the beginning of a new day for education in our country," U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said. "A lot of hard work is ahead of us. But this is a huge step in a direction that would have been unimaginable just a year or two ago."There will be no prescription for how teachers get there, avoiding nettlesome discussions about whether phonics or whole language is a better method of teaching reading; whether students should be drilled in math facts; or whether eighth-graders should read "The Great Gatsby" or "To Kill a Mockingbird."

Education experts say there will still be plenty to argue about.

"All the groups, the math educators and the English professors and the liberals and the conservatives will want to weigh in," said Michael J. Petrilli, vice president for national programs and policy at the nonprofit Thomas B. Fordham Institution. "There are fundamental disagreements in our society about what kids should learn."

1 comment:

will van dorp said...

I was truly pleased to stumble upon the curriculum material you posted some time back related to barge 79 and tugboat pegasus. i'm friends with both david and pam. i'd be very happy if you'd look at my henry hudson blog . . . that attempts to fill in blanks about his thoughts given the sparse historical record. i am an education, assistant professor of english at union county college.