Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mass Ed Board Adopts National Academic Standards

From the Boston Globe:

State education officials have been exploring the possibility of adopting the national standards for more than a year, a controversial proposition for a state known to have some of the most rigorous academic standards in the nation.

The national standards, which Massachusetts officials helped to develop, specify what material should be taught in English and math at every grade level. The voluntary effort was spearheaded by associations representing the nation's governors and state education leaders and has received the support of President Obama, who is now pushing states to adopt the standards by offering financial incentives.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. To be honest, I don't know enough about the national standards to make an informed comparison. I do know that Massachusetts has spent billions of dollars implementing its own standards - standards which have launched the state to the pinnacle of the student achievement mountain. That old adage about not fixing something if it ain't broke seems to reverberate loudly with this decision.

Of course, as the Globe article states, this choice is as much about money as anything else. When states appease Obama and sign on to his national standards, they are eligible for federal dollars. The question is, how much cash will Massachusetts get, and is that amount worth giving up control of an educational system that - while certainly not perfect - seems to function better than the rest of the country.

Links: National Common Standards, New York Times Common Standards Discussion

Photo by Joanne Rathe, Boston Globe Staff


Mr. B-G said...

I'm also a bit concerned about adopting standards partially created by Bill Gates. I suppose I have a problem with corporate figures shaping public school curriculum.

I don't, however, have a problem with corporate figures donating technology or equipment to my classroom, so long as there's no expectation that donations would influence what is taught.

There's a difference between what we teach and how we teach. Public schools need all the assistance they can get to bring instructional practices into the 21st century.

Curriculum, though, should remain the purview of professionally trained educators. And the closer those educators are to the actual students they teach, the better.

Dogtrax said...

I saw that in the newspaper this morning, too, and sort of knew it was bound to becoming. I guess we're always in the midst of change.
My wife is part of a national team developing some instructional units around the Common Core ELA standards (via the National Writing Project) and I'll be interested to see how that work progresses, too (she hasn't yet started it)

SummerUSFUB said...

not sure what our state will do, but California is in a similar situation. we are known for having some of the most detailed and rigorous state standards, and we are hesitant to adopt national standards if this will lower achievement or expectations.

I watched an interview with our state superintendent of schools recently; he is a former educator and legislator, and he is willing to adopt the national standards, provided that the national standars meet certain criteria.

When I researched standards for different states, I was suprised by both the qualitative and quantitative differences of state standards. Many states had vague content standards by comparison to California... and I am sure that some people would find California was overly complex and sequential.