What's at Stake in the K-12 Standards Wars: A Primer for Educational Policy Makers

What's at Stake in the K-12 Standards Wars: A Primer for Educational Policy Makers

What's at Stake in the K-12 Standards Wars: A Primer for Educational Policy Makers

What's at Stake in the K-12 Standards Wars: A Primer for Educational Policy Makers

Synopsis

"This collection of essays addresses the issues that have arisen in the development and implementation of national and state standards in science, mathematics, history, economics, and the English language arts from the perspective of scholars in those disciplines. These scholars are writing not for other scholars in their field but for those who help shape K-12 educational policy - legislators, members of boards of education, and those who teach courses in government or education policy making. The purpose of this collection is to clarify what is at stake in the standards wars and in standards-based systemic reform." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Despite wide public support for the development of standards for K-12, conflicts have regularly erupted over one or another set of standards since the inception of the standards-writing movement about a decade ago. the disciplinary and pedagogical issues at the core of these conflicts have varied, depending on the particular subject areas in dispute, the governor of the state, and the composition of the state legislature, the state board of education, the staff of the state department of education, the committees selected to develop the standards, and the leadership of groups with professional or political interests in their content. However, the disciplinary and pedagogical issues driving the conflicts in the major subject areas in the K-12 curriculum are not just a matter of a more rather than a less inclusive curriculum or of one or another set of teaching methods. They are also a matter of how much students ultimately learn, thereby affecting the development of a responsible citizenry capable of analytical thinking and informed participation in civic life.

The standards-writing movement began in most states in 1989, soon after the federal government began to stimulate the development of voluntary national standards for every major school subject -- to serve as models for states and local school systems. Standards were perceived as an important way to begin to solve one of the most daunting problems that this country faces -- the low level of academic achievement of its young people. How can standards help raise student achievement? To begin with, standards provide all parents, teachers, and students in a state with clear expectations of what all students should learn. They also contribute to coherent educational practices when teachers align their instructional methods and materials with assessments based on these standards. Further, they establish relevant guidelines for teacher preparation, professional development, and certification. Finally, and perhaps most important, standards that reflect high expectations for all students in a state contribute strongly to the goal of equity.

This collection of essays on disciplinary and pedagogical issues in national and state standards arose from a one-day conference on K-12 standards at Assumption College, Worcester, in May 1998, sponsored by the New England affiliates of the National Association of Scholars. Thomas Carnicelli and I, the organizers of the conference, presented . . .

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