February 25 2010
States Should Look, Not Leap When it Comes to National Standards
Vicki E. Alger, Ph.D
(This post was co-authored by Evelyn B. Stacey, education policy analyst at the Pacific Research Institute, a free-market think tank in Sacramento, California)
A day after President Obama and Secretary of Education Duncan laid out an aggressive plan to expand federal control over K-12 academic standards at the National Governors Association (NGA) a new report finds the national standards process "opaque" and could jeopardize states such with existing high standards.
In order to qualify for federal Title I funds, states may now have to sign on to the Common Core State Standard Initiative (CCSSI). Yet the Pioneer Institute and Pacific Research Institute study, Why Race to the Middle, found that:
• the process for developing national standards was flawed;
• the College- and Career-Readiness Standards are not internationally benchmarked;
• and the standards won't lead to college-readiness in English or math by grade 12.
Scientific American also reported that the consensus among math officials is that "after decades of wrangling, the system still isn't working. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. high school students ranked in the bottom quarter in math performance, as compared with students of nations belonging to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development."
"With the façade of voluntary adoption gone and this looking more like a federal takeover of educational standards, Massachusetts and other states that have gotten their acts together over the last 15 years have a choice to make," says James Stergios, executive director of Pioneer Institute in Massachusetts. "Since education reform, Massachusetts and its localities have invested $90 billion in our schools; the feds not even hitting 10 percent of school spending. We implemented hard-won reforms...Why would we give that up - why would we give up leading the nation on national assessments and college entrance tests, and competing with the best nations in math and science to line up behind standards that look more like West Virginia's than the nation's best?"
The study concludes that "the rush to move from 50 state standards to a single set of standards for 50 states in less than one year, and the lack of transparency in CCSSI's procedure, have excluded... the kind and extent of public discussion merited by the huge policy implications of such a move."