National Education Standards
The idea of instituting national education standards in the U.S., along with a test to measure if the standards are met, is a debated topic. If the United States government was to impose national education standards on the states, controversy would arise. Of course, there are those who cheer for the idea of national standards and those who hiss at it.
- According to the U.S. Census Bureau, some organizations have already created national standards, like the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. But these national standards are not imposed, just encouraged. If the federal government did impose national standards, it would not be the first time they were involved with the education system. By the start of the 21st century, the federal government created the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) in order to raise student achievement and improve teaching in the states.
- Some educators see the federal level as a bossy older sibling, willing to point out all the flaws of the state education system, but not willing to find a realistic solution. While the states are responsible for creating and implementing standards, Paul E. Barton, author of “National Education Standards,” feels, “The rigor and quality of existing state standards vary greatly, and states have different mindsets about what content standards are intended to do. One state may see standards as an expression of high aspirations for how much students should know. Another state may view standards as a way to make realistic judgments about what is possible for students to know, given that state’s experience with its schools.”
- Creating standards is no easy task; for example, those creating the standards must take into consideration the vast gap of achievement in a single classroom. Sometimes the performance gap from one student to another is three grade levels. Imagine trying to create a single standard on a single topic that will address all students on all performance levels within a particular grade. What should the standard do and how demanding should it be?
- Advocates for national standards want content standards and standardized testing. These advocates feel a quality set of content standards can be created and the level of student performance on these standards can be measured by a standardized test. Those that are “pro standardized test” look at it as a form of accountability -- the teachers will teach to the standards if they know their students will be tested on them. This raises an important question. Would the national standards be seen as guidelines or mandatory principles within a classroom? If the standardized testing is imposed on a national level what happens to poor test takers? These are questions to keep in mind as events unfold.