"High Achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation." - Charles Kettering

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Chasin' scoops School Scoop!

Click on the link to see Chasin's scoop on Wisconsin joining the bandwagon of National Standards. I found this article and other similar ones to be pretty minimalist, so after some lengthy searching, I came up with the following link to help explain what this all means.


In theory, it is an admirable goal for all states to adhere to a National Standard of Education. It means that a fourth grader in Louisiana has the same curriculum goals and expectations as a fourth grader in Wisconsin. The focus on English Language Arts and Mathematics seems to be a start. There is a fundamental understanding that without a firm grasp of the language of instruction, no learning can take place. The higher the class level, the higher expectation for communication skills. For example, Chemistry has a language all its own and if you have trouble communicating (reading, writing and speaking) at an expected tenth grade level, what chance do you have of understanding the special language that is Chemistry? Adopting these "common core standards" nationally would mean that education is the same everywhere in the United States. Whether it will be better remains to be seen.

The problem with "levelling the playing field," as educators are wont to say, is that there are multiple ways to achieve that end. The one they want you to believe they are talking about is where the standards of lower achieving states are brought up to the standards of the higher achieving states. The other more insidious way to level the playing field is to water down the curriculum everywhere so that high achieving states come down to the level of low achieving states. Of course there is usually a compromise struck where the high achieving states come down and the low achieving states come up.

After reading some of the material on the core standards link mentioned above, I don't think the intent is to bamboozle the entire country. Industry needs a well educated work force with certain minimum requirements. Those minimums are a lot higher than they were when I graduated lo those many years ago (stone age, according to my middle schooler). There are standards identified for College readiness and Career readiness that were adopted with input "from over 10,000 stakeholders." By which I presume they mean colleges and potential employers. This is a good start and the process they used seems to have measurable achievements. The tricky part comes with implementation. I hope this initiative results in uplifting our country's education so that all students are exposed to best practices and given the chance to exceed their own expectations. I trust it does not effectively reduce the standards to the lowest common factor.

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