Thursday, July 22, 2010

Standards vs. reality, cont'd.

Had I read the actual Fordham report I mentioned yesterday, I would have seen, and highlighted for you, this passage in the foreword, by Checker Finn and Mike Petrilli

Yet everyone also knows that standards often end up like wallpaper. They sit there on a state website, available for download, but mostly they’re ignored. Educators instead obsess about what’s on the high-stakes test—and how much students actually have to know in order to pass—which becomes the real standard. After making the most superficial ad- justments, textbook publishers assert that their wares are “aligned” with the standards. Ed schools simply ignore them.

So it’s no great surprise that serious analysts, recently including the Brookings Institution’s Russ Whitehurst, have found no link between the quality of state standards and actual student performance.3 That’s because standards seldom get real traction on the ground. Adopting good standards is like having a goal for your cholesterol; it doesn’t mean you will actually eat a healthy diet. Or like purchasing a treadmill; owning that machine only makes a difference if you tie on your sneakers and run.

But when great standards are combined with smart implementation, policy makers can move mountains. 


  1. I teach World History. It would take four or five years to cover the Standards. Our textbook is great but its written on grade level which is about five years above the omprehension levels of my students. So to cover students so students master them, how long would it take?

    Standards are fine, and if implemented properly in functional schools they might move mountains. This debate is completely irrelevant, however, for inner city schools.

  2. It is easy to critise the business and political communities, but education had been left to the education community for years and is failing. Until we improve the quality of our teachers we will continue to fail. This means that we will do what is necessary for the children to improve instead of doing what is best for the adults(Superintendents, Principals, Teachers, etc.) in the equation.