Standards Aren't Enough
While Americans spent the summer watching shouting matches over health care, quiet but historic progress was being made on another of President Barack Obama’s domestic-policy priorities: getting schools to ask more of their students so that they graduate better prepared for life and work.
In late September, a new draft of national end-of-high-school standards intended to demand of students a greater depth of understanding of math, reading, and writing was unveiled. A philosophically diverse validation committee of senior scholars and practitioners has been appointed to examine the evidence supporting the standards and to recommend revisions. The next step will be to write standards for each grade, starting in kindergarten. ( "New Standards Draft Offers More Details," Sept. 30, 2009.)
But if the goal is—as it should be—to influence and inform teaching and learning, then standards, no matter what they say, are merely the starting point. Curricula, tests, textbooks, lesson plans, and teachers’ on-the-job training will all have to be revised to reinforce the standards. Only then will these new “common-core standards” serve as the organizing principle...
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