Despite Praise, Massachusetts’ Standards Don’t Measure Up

April 28, 2008 1 min read

The secretary of education and others have praised Massachusetts for the rigor of its academic standards. But the state’s standards aren’t challenging enough to prepare high school students for college, according to a new study. Thirty-seven percent of college freshmen took a remedial course in the fall of 2005. See the Boston Globe story on the study.

The study highlights “the fundamental dilemma” with NCLB, says If Massachusetts sets its standards any higher, it would turn low-performing kids into dropouts, writes Thomas J. Hanson, the superintendent-turned-blogger who runs the site. What such kids actually need are viable educational options that actually prepare them for the workforce, whether as a plumber or an auto mechanic.

Only when raising standards is discussed against a back drop of creating meaningful options for students who cannot handle the academic rigor associated with college level work will we be able to increase expectations without increasing our drop out rates. Despite proponents spin on the law, NCLB fails to address this fundamental dilemma. In fact, it likely prevents school districts from taking the steps to increase standards because increasing standards will only bring about more penalties for schools. And because the law governs the actions of our public schools, we have situations like that of Massachusetts, where 100% proficiency goals get confused with the goal of college readiness, and students are caught in the absurdity of it all.

A version of this news article first appeared in the NCLB: Act II blog.