Will core standards raise achievement?

Will Common Core standards improve education? The discussion is on at National Journal.

Good standards are necessary but not sufficient, writes Diane Ravitch.

It is important to have clear, reasonable, and feasible standards because they can help improve assessment, teacher preparation, textbooks and materials, and professional development. Teachers need to know what is expected of them, and so do students.

. . . Some states with great standards, like Massachusetts, have outstanding achievement. Others with great standards, like California, are low performing. Even great standards are not enough.

Common Core standards will encourage innovation, writes Tom Vander Ark of Ed Reformers.

Some states talk ‘college ready’ but their standards and especially their cut scores didn’t measure up. The Core gets the goal right.

Beyond the equity benefit, the Core will be an innovation platform. Like the iPhone, the Core will unleash investment of energy and investment of millions of teachers, writers, programers and entrepreneurs. We won’t get 100,000 cool apps, but we will see a new generation of adaptive content, learning games, diagnostic assessment, better PD…and maybe 10,000 cool apps.

My comment isn’t very original: Standards are the first step in a long journey.

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  1. In the comments section, Chester Finn said “CA and IN had good standards, too, but didn’t do the needful and saw no gains worthy of mention” which is incorrect.

    Evidence of CA’s success in Authentic Algebra Preparation is available here: http://concernedabouteducation.posterous.com/naep-performance-vs-authentic-preparation

  2. A standard is a unit of measurement. My height does not change with the standard of length you use. The procedural uniformity which national standards will impose will discourage innovation. Age-related curriculum standards will promote a curriculum which bores the bright students, frustrates the slow students, and poorly serves the students in between.

    Consider Math, the course for which the development of standards should be simplest. When to introduce Geometry, whether to incorporate Geometry into Algebra I and II or to teach Geometry as a separate course, when to teach the notation of Set Theory and Logic, whether to teach congruence arithmetic at all, all these questions involve a mix of value judgments and unsettled empirical questions. The national standards policy falsely presumes agreement on these questions.

    Now consider Social Studies, or English, or Art. Is standardization desirable or even possible?
    I do not see what advantage standards confer over a voucher-subsidized market in education services. The standard most likely to improve overall system performance is the parent standard: “Do I want my child in that school?”

  3. Erin Johnson says:

    Funny, that the National Journal blog said that the research was mixed. It isn’t. Opinions may be mixed but the research is fairly clear: standards have had zero effect on student learning. There may be good reasons to develop standards, but enabling improvements in student learning is not one of those reasons.

  4. A long road?

    How long a road? And do you think that Common Core’s backers and the politicians have the patience for this?

    See what I’ve written over at Gotham Schools.



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