Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Duncan proposing national standards?

David Hoff from Education Week reports that Arne Duncan is talking wistfully about national standards:
His comments to (the American Council on Education) suggests he'll be pushing the issue in any reauthorization of NCLB that happens under his watch.

As for Duncan's comments:

If we accomplish one thing in the coming years—it should be to eliminate the extreme variation in standards across America.

I know that talking about standards can make people nervous—but the notion that we have 50 different goal posts is absolutely ridiculous.

Now, there is a long road between postulating and actualizing, and there will be more than one state (and professional teacher organization, and testing company, and textbook company) that will put up roadblocks if their standards are not chosen. But, the idea already has the basic support of Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.

This brings many questions to the forefront. What does this do to the state's work on the Iowa Core? First the downturn in the economy and other barriers to slow down the rollout of it, and then when high schools should start implementing it (2010-11), the reauthorization bill could require a whole new set of planning and priorities.

What groups would be consulted in the development of these standards? Would we start with NCTM for math, for example, or forgo the work that group has done?

Would the emphasis be on comprehensive coverage via standards, or narrowing the curriculum? This is especially apropos given that there will be several groups wishing for their standards to be represented.

What support would the government do to make sure this set of standards is viable? Or, would it be an unfunded mandate (I know... what are the chances of that happening...)?

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