Wednesday, July 21, 2010

California and D.C.: Yay, they’re the best!

California, D.C. and Indiana have language arts standards that are stronger than the Common Core, according to a new Fordham Foundation report. They also shine in math. And yet their students perform worse on NAEP than about anyone else. Again, I can’t help thinking about the disconnect between those standards sitting in files in state departments of education ad actual teaching and learning going on in classrooms. High standards? They’re like chocolate chip ice cream and baby animal photos: How can you not love them? But this sure does make one wonder if anyone has correlated strong standards with student performance. I would try to find out myself but ... OOOH, NEWBORN MONKEYS!!!


  1. And another interesting (read: wonky, but historically fascinating) perspective on NAEP.

  2. You raise a good point, Linda--

    But here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
    1.) DC's standards are still fairly new, and some have credited them (at least in part) with recent increases in NAEP scores.
    2.) California's per-pupil funding is quite low, which--together with a host of other factors, might lessen the effect of strong standards.

    Both observations are of course very speculative. It's devilishly difficult to prove causation.

    But I do think it's fair to say that strong standards alone won't work miracles. It would be interesting to examine all the other factors that come into play--quality of assessments aligned to standards, quality of curriculum aligned to both, quality of supporting tools for teachers, quality of supporting staff development. That would be a multi-headed monster of a study. Still, I suspect the outcomes would support the standards plus approach. (More speculation, I know...)

  3. Excellent points, Linda. Part of the problem with the Fordham ratings is that there is no basis for the highly subjective criteria they used and their group of reviewers was limited in both number and level of recognized expertise.