Orwell Award Announcement SusanOhanian.Org Home

NCLB Outrages

Standard Deviation

Ohanian Comment: This is the Obama, AKA George 3 iteration of NCLB. American Prospect, longtime Standardistos, just performs its usual role of providing a platform.

Remember, The Center for American Progress prepared Barack Obama's first big education presentation back in 2005. Don't say you weren't warned.

The wingnut for the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) declares that they chose Achieve, College Board, and ACT to write the national standards because: "those three groups because theyâve done the lionâs share of the work on these things the last 30-plus years in defining what college-readiness is."

Forget teachers' work.

Forget that the majority of students need a good education other than college.

Well, this is no surprise. Take a look at CCSSO's corporate partners. Even I am shocked. No subtlety here. Their Corporate Partner of the Month is Data Recognition Corporation.

Of course the National Governors Association doesn't have clean hands. Here is their list of "Corporate Fellows." There's a picture of Microsoft officials getting an award at the 2009 winter meeting.

We MUST fight this. For the sake of the students. For the sake of our profession.
Out in the streets!

I'm marching in the 4th of July parade tomorrow, wearing this sandwich board. I will also wear it in my solitary vigil in the popular Church Street Marketplace in Burlington.

NOTE: Christopher Sopher was a field organizer for Obama's Organizing for America campaign. In 2008, Christopher worked full-time for Obama for America, first as a press intern in Chicago and later as a staffer in Maine. Now he's an intern at American Prospect.

by Christopher Sopher

Forty-nine states and territories have signed on to create national education standards. But will state-by-state implementation really work? TAP talks to the movement's leaders.

The National Governors Association first declared its support for national education standards in 1989, with then-President George H.W. Bushâs blessing. Yet despite efforts during both the Bush and Clinton years, no common standards system ever emerged.

Now that could change. On June 1, 46 states, 3 territories, and the standardized-testing industry announced an initiative aimed at changing that. The stakeholders have promised to work together to create national curriculum standards -- but crucially, have not agreed on how to actually implement them in each state. The Prospect talked with Scott Montgomery, deputy executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, and Dane Linn, director of education for the National Governorsâ Association Center for Best Practices, whose organizations are leading the coalition, about how this initiative is different that past national standards efforts and what challenges lie ahead.

The previous efforts to set national standards resulted in vague agreements of support, but implementation was disjointed across states. How will this initiative improve upon previous attempts?

Dane Linn, NGA: There are a couple ways in which the work that weâre doing now differs from previous efforts. One is, the data clearly shows that the gap between how U.S. students perform relative to those in high-performing countries, including our neighbor to the north, Canada, is growing. The second way in which this work differs is that there is a political climate that exists today that may not have existed in previous efforts, where itâs no longer tolerable for the United States to depend on the top 10 percent to carry this economy.

We have both a moral and an economic responsibility to ensure that all students have an opportunity to take advantage of what we traditionally call those high-wage, high-skill jobs. And the other thing is that itâs just not defensible to spend as much money as we are on the development of standards and assessments -- times 50. So if we can leverage resources from state to state -- for example, on student assessments -- we can stop spending the approximately $700 million we are spending collectively and reach an economy of scale that is not obtainable in one state alone.

Now that you have this agreement between these 49 states and territories, who is going to participate in the writing of these standards at the policy level?

Scott Montgomery, CCSSO: Whatâs being developed right now and whatâs going to come out in July are the drafts of college- and work-readiness standards. That is being developed by our partners from Achieve, College Board, and ACT. And we chose those three groups because theyâve done the lionâs share of the work on these things the last 30-plus years in defining what college-readiness is. Those are in draft form; theyâve been reviewed, the work teams are actually working on them right now. And weâll be finalizing sometime early to mid-summer, after thereâs been a review period by the states and theyâve been validated by this national validation committee. From that, the individual grade-by-grade K to 12 standards will be developed throughout the rest of the summer, and those will be out for comments by the states and review committees and finalized early in 2010.

Youâre developing these common core standards for English language arts and mathematics. Where do science, civics, and other subjects fit into that?

Linn: We think itâs really important to demonstrate success. We think English language arts and mathematics are the foundation for success in the other subjects, and hence thatâs why weâre focused on those two subjects right now.

Montgomery: As an old social studies teacher, I get the concern that a lot of groups have about, âWhere are social studies? Whereâs science? Where are the other pieces of this?â But one of the things we discussed early on was that the ability to read and write effectively and do math calculations is so critical to everything else that students do in school -- and frankly, itâs where states are at right now given the guidelines of No Child Left Behind. So this is essentially the low-hanging fruit of the standards world, and I think weâve got ideas for where we go in the future. But we had to start some place, and letâs get this one right first and then move on to those others.

The agreement says these new standards will not be lower than any stateâs existing standards. With so much disparity across states, how do you go about creating these standards?

Montgomery: Thatâs a good question, and itâs actually one that we anticipated as we drafted our Memorandum of Agreement. For states that are struggling with, âHow do I ratchet the bar up that much higher than what I may already have?â we anticipated an implementation window of up to three years. For states that already believe that their standards are high, weâve actually said that if you adopt the standards in whole, as long as the common core represents at least 85 percent of your state standards, you could add a few other things around that.

How will CCSSO and NGA help states implement these standards?

Montgomery: We know that all states are a little different. There are some states that have put their standards adoption processes on hold barring the outcome of this process. I can think of a couple off the top of my head: Arkansas and Delaware, who really want to see this work. And in those cases the adoption process may be fairly quick. In other states who have a different timeline, who may have just gone through an adoption process -- Colorado just implemented brand new standards in English language arts -- thereâs a timing issue where they certainly donât want to put in a second set of standards right on top of the ones they just brought in last year. I think a lot of this is going to be individual one-on-one discussions that state policy makers and Achieve and the governors and others are going to have.

Since the adoption process is optional, what happens if these standards are developed and then states either delay or signal that theyâre actually not going to adopt the standards?

Linn: Weâre the first to admit that not only is this a significant scope of work, but this is hard work. No one said this is going to be easy. And we know there are a lot of challenges that weâre going to have to face as we work with states to implement these standards. The state boards are critical to adopting these standards. But there are a lot of factors that are going to weigh in on their decision about whether or not to adopt these standards. Our role and the role of many of the other organizations is to help them figure out ways to address those challenges.

— Christopher Sopher
American Prospect


This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of education issues vital to a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information click here. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.