States Weigh National Education Standards

By: - March 15, 2010 12:00 am

Officials from 48 states last week unveiled a set of proposed education standards for K-12 schools nationwide, taking a key step to guarantee that students in one part of the country build the same skills as those in another. Now comes the hard part, as states must decide whether they want to adopt those standards.

Alaska and Texas have already said no. The two states were the only ones not to participate in a study group convened by the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers, which released the standards last Wednesday (March 10). Texas Governor Rick Perry has been most outspoken in his criticism of the proposed national standards, saying students in his state should learn only under standards proposed by Texans.

Even in the states that helped develop the standards, potential fault lines are emerging. Massachusetts, for example, will not adopt national standards if they are lower than the ones it already has in place — often considered the toughest in the nation, The Boston Globe reported .

“State policy makers should think long and hard before scrapping the nation’s best standards in favor of an untested substitute,” two education experts wrote in a Globe commentary , saying the proposed standards “are based on a fundamentally different foundation than those in place in Massachusetts.”

Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Maine and New York are among the states planning to adopt the national standards quickly, Bloomberg reported , with Florida and New York officials telling the news service they planned to do so this year. But even in those states, it will take years before students begin learning under the new standards, since textbooks must be updated and teachers must be re-trained.


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