School & District Management

Effect of Common Standards Debated

By Catherine Gewertz — February 21, 2012 1 min read
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Last week’s report by the Brookings Institution sure made a splash. As we reported to you, author Tom Loveless argued that the new common standards will have no effect on student achievement. He pointed out that there has been little connection between states’ own standards and student performance on NAEP, and says there is little reason to contend that such a dynamic would change with a new set of standards, however common or uncommon.

As the comments section of our post suggested, the blogosphere wasn’t content to let Loveless’ report lie there uncontested.

Robert Rothman of the Alliance for Excellent Education, one of the common standards’ most ardent supporters, argues that there is plenty of reason to hope that these new standards will change the game in education. For one, he notes, publishers are developing “innovative” new materials that they wouldn’t have absent a national marketplace. States and districts are making new curricula, revising tests, and conducting professional development. Cross-state collaborations are taking shape, Rothman argues, such as one in which math educators have banded together to improve teacher preparation. All of this, he says, suggests that standards could indeed drive change for the better this time around.

Richard Lee Colvin at the Quick and the Ed calls Loveless’ report a “pessimistic dead-end.” Good standards that are well implemented and bring about change in many aspects of the education system are indeed cause for optimism, he argues.

Andy Rotherham at Eduwonk admits that implementation is critical if the new standards are going to make things better, but says that even questions about implementation aren’t cause to make a case against the standards.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.