National Standards Return to Agenda

March 03, 2009 1 min read

Following up on last week’s post on national standards, you can read my story in this week’s issue of Education Week.

The story describes the “convergence of high-powered opinion” in favor of standards (a rhetorical flourish added by an editor, I must confess). But it also notes that completing the task won’t be easy.

One of the obstacles may be Congress, as Checker Finn points out near the bottom of the story. In the 1990s, Congress distanced itself from a set of history standards developed under a grant made by the administration of President George H.W. Bush. It also halted President Clinton’s proposal for voluntary national tests in 4th grade reading and 8th grade mathematics.

By 2001, President Bush and his allies were avoiding all discussions of national standards under NCLB. Now, ironically, NCLB’s reliance on a patchwork of state standards is one of the reasons why governors and others are rallying behind national standards. Will Congress be ready to make the jump from state standards to national standards when it reauthorizes NCLB?

More on national standards ...

Over at the Core Knowledge blog, Robert Pondiscio argues that standards need “to ensure the content is actually taught.” The best way to do that would be to tie them to the expectations on assessment, he says.

On the History News Network, Kevin Kosar suggests “the most sensible solution” would be to produce standards using the expectation under the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Last week, Flypaper’s Mike Petrilli was gung-ho about getting to work on national standards. This week, he’s jittery about National Education Association’s announcement that it wants to jump on the bandwagon.

While many folks are talking about standards, loyal readers of NCLB: Act II could have seen it coming as far back as 2007. In the archives, you’ll see arguments for national standards that started appearing in a chat and commentary on

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