Test nationally, act locally

The case for national testing is made by William J. Bennett and Rod Paige in the Washington Post.

Washington should set sound national academic standards and administer a high-quality national test. Publicize everybody’s results, right down to the school level. Then Washington should butt out.

States could decide what to do to raise their students’ scores — or do nothing at all, if voters would accept that.

Bennett and Paige tell Republicans that states rights has limits. No Child Left Behind, in deferring to the states, has made it too easy to set low standards, administer an easy test and declare success.

Eduwonk has more on the issue.

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  1. As I said on my blog, the “test nationally, act locally” idea is the same as me telling my children what’s for dinner and letting them decide which fork to use.

    This is federalized education.

    Who cares about the tenth ammendment. Who cares about local control. And when has Washington ever “butted out” after they did something. Bennett and Paige are conning the American people. And because most people are too distracted and don’t know the Consitution they’ll probably get away with it. Welcome to the United Socialists of America.

  2. I’m always concerned when I hear my fellow so-called conservatives say that states’ rights have limits. I do like the suggestion, though, that we can have national standards and national tests aligned with those standards–and then publish the results. No sanctions, no carrots and sticks, just publication. Let the states react how they want.

    Or the states wouldn’t have to participate. They just wouldn’t have to get federal education $$, either.

    Even as a relative conservative I’d be ok with that.

  3. Darren, as a practical legal matter, tying such regulations to federal funds is really the only way Congress could create enforceable federal standards: there’s simply no other legal basis for federal jurisdiction. But I like your publication idea MUCH better.