Web Lines to Curriculum Standards

Article excerpt

Web resources can help you

set standards for academic

excellence and find out how we

compare with other nations.

President Clinton's recent "Call to

Action for American Education in

the 21st Century" urged every state and

every school to establish meaningful

standards for what students should

master in the core subjects. Such standards

would be used nationwide for

improving curriculum and instruction,

holding schools accountable for

improved performance, and charting

the academic progress of students.

The president also announced the

development by 1999 of rigorous

national tests' based initially on the

National Assessment of Educational

Progress (NAEP) reading test for grade

four, and the Third International

Mathematics and Science Study

(TIMSS) mathematics test for grade

eight. Schools will be invited to administer

the tests yearly as part of their

local testing program, and results with

supporting materials will be placed on

the Web for easy review by teachers,

students and parents (you can read the

plan online: www.ed.gov/updates/

PresEDPlan/part2.html).

Conflicting Standards

But accepting the challenge to make

curriculum standards explicit is no easy

task, and few topics generate as much

heat among educators. Indeed, there

have been unending discussions about

a variety of issues raised by national

standards and testing: the content and

skills that students should acquire at

each grade level; who should make

such decisions; how those expectations

should be communicated and evaluated;

and what to do to prevent standards

from being misused. Therefore, current

initiatives by federal and state governments,

and comparisons of student

achievement with other countries--as

was done through TIMSS--is adding

new fuel to old fires.

Nevertheless, curriculum standards

are inextricably linked to the quality of

education, and teachers need to have an

integral part in formulating them. But

the problem is that myriad standards

have been written at local, state and

national levels, and are offered by

numerous and often competing curriculum

and professional organizations.

Furthermore--and especially as

technology is making dramatic changes in

the curriculum--standards are revised

continuously and it is difficult to stay

current. So what's an educator to do?

Point-and-Click Solutions

Fortunately, up-to-date curriculum

guidelines and frameworks are now but

a mouse-click away. …