Education Letter to the Editor

What We Gain With National Standards

February 01, 2010 1 min read

To the Editor:

Alfie Kohn has made a career out of bashing tests, and he continues in that vein with his Quality Counts 2010 Commentary (“Debunking the Case for National Standards,” Jan. 14, 2010).

We do need a national set of standards. That will likely lead to national tests, and although those tests won’t dictate how results are achieved, best practices will produce a great deal of uniformity. All that is good!

Imagine an athletic event, such as a high jump. There are uniform goals and uniform rules, and individuals adopt similar, though not identical, strategies to succeed. Creative breakthroughs that improve performance happen (the technique called the Fosbury Flop, for example) and strivers adapt quickly.

Our education system has been paddling directionless for far too long. If national standards provide a beacon, let’s use them.

Patrick Mattimore

Beijing, China

A version of this article appeared in the February 03, 2010 edition of Education Week as What We Gain With National Standards