Posted by: Bill | June 12, 2009

Talk of National Standards

It’s time for the latest round of national standards development. Yippee! I truly wish the groups working on this (CCSSO and the NGA) the best of luck in crafting standards representing a core knowledge of what we would like our children to emerge from the K-12 system knowing.

It is logical on so many levels to put all states on a level playing field in the era of No Child Left Behind. It isn’t so much in line with federalism, but many states have been quite bold in lowering the bar (I’m talking to you Wisconsin and Arizona) in order to keep the Federal money flowing in. Others (good job Massachusetts) have held the line and kept their standards high.

Eduwonk points out the “perverse incentive” inherent in any national effort such as this:

…isn’t there a powerful incentive to be as inclusive as possible in order to get the most states to sign-on and appease as many constituencies as possible?  In other words, in the media this will be seen as a failure unless some critical mass of states sign-on to it.  Yet, in fact, it might really be a success even if only a handful join initially.  Perhaps the problem isn’t that few states will join, it’s that everyone will…

Core Knowledge notes that early reports on the standards sausage-making are, as one would expect, not pretty at all.

The ABCTE standards for our 12 exams are very strong. (Note that I am as biased as I could possibly be on this topic having engineered the development of the majority of them.) The beauty of our process is that no one was looking over our shoulder through every step of their development. We worked very hard to get dedicated, knowledgeable subject matter experts in the room and told them we wanted standards without fluff that would serve as the framework for future test questions.

We did not have buy-in from any states ahead of time, but we were confident that most educators would approve of them after review. The process was 100% transparent. Our experience has shown this to be true; roadblocks to us entering states are generally political, regulatory and/or philosophical. In fact, after piloting our Math certification for a few years, the state of Utah examined our assessments with a magnifying glass and proceeded to enthusiastically approve all of them.


  1. […] Schimmel shares Talk of National Standards from No Cynics […]

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