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Friday, 15th January 2010

Alliance Brief Says Common Standards Movement Represents a "Sea Change" in American Education

Alliance Brief Says Common Standards Movement Represents a "Sea Change" in American Education
Source: Alliance for Excellent Education

The state-led common standards movement, which will raise expectations for all students no matter where they live, represents a “sea change” in American education and one that is sorely needed, according to a new issue brief from the Alliance for Excellent Education. The brief, Common Standards: The Time is Now, outlines the need for common standards that are rigorous, clear, and focused and it suggests ways that common standards will help lay the foundation for a stronger education system that will prepare all students for college and careers.
According to the brief, written by Bob Rothman, senior fellow at the Alliance for Excellent Education, states vary widely in the expectations to which they hold their students—a situation that is especially harmful to low-income and minority students. It notes that state standards vary in many ways, including content, quality, proficiency levels, and college readiness. Yet these variations are harmful, the brief argues, because students who graduate from Walla Walla, Washington, will face the same global economy as graduates from Wheeling, West Virginia. And in a highly mobile society like the United States, a student should not face lower expectations when he or she moves to another state. For these and other reasons, the brief argues, students everywhere need to be equally prepared to compete effectively.

The brief also points out that common standards can also help states become more efficient. States currently spend between $517 million and $750 million annually to develop, publish, administer, score, and report on tests. Common standards provide an opportunity for states to pool together to develop tests based on a common framework, allowing them to save money and develop more sophisticated instruments that do a better job of measuring the full range of knowledge and skills students are expected to demonstrate.

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