US Education Reform: Governors And State School Chiefs Lay The Foundation For Common Education Standards Across The US
Yesterday an alliance of National Governors Association (NGA) and State School Chiefs unveiled the final version of common educational standards across the states.
The document lays out in detail the skills students should have at each grade level focusing on subjects such as mathematics and English/reading arts. Forty-eight states and Washington DC have signed non binding pledges to participate in the common standards initiative without adopting the standards formally, at least yet. Hawaii, Kentucky, Maryland along with West Virginia have tentatively adopted previous versions of the common standard while the remaining 44 are still yet to make a decision on how and which parts to adopt and implement.
This move by the Governors and the School Chiefs seek to harmonise the uneven standards between the various states and this blueprint provides broad parameters of student achievement in each grade. The Obama administration shares the outcome based approach of the commom core standards and states that adopt the programme by 2 August would improve their chances to receive funding through the administration's flagship education project - Race to the Top. The common standard was part of the Federal Department of Education's recent plans to reauthorise the No Child Left Behind Act.
Delaware Governor Jack Markell, who co-chaired the panel that helped develop the standards said "Consistent standards mean all of our children will be prepared for work and college readiness regardless of their ZIP code," however critics point out that these could mean states and local governments losing control of their schools. Many others view this as an attempt by the Federal Government to centralise education and usurp state power especially since President Obama had threatened to hold back federal grants to states that decide not to adopt the common standards. However, this time around the whole effort has been driven by the states and the US Department of Education had no role in developing the proposed standards.
The Us Education Secretary Arne Duncan welcomed the move and commended the Governors and chief state schol officers on their leadership. "States have come together to develop standards that are internationally benchmarked and include the knowledge and skills that students must learn to succeed in college and career" said Secretary Duncan before adding "As the nation seeks to maintain our international competitiveness, ensure all students regardless of background have access to a high quality education, and prepare all students for college, work and citizenship, these standards are an important foundation for our collective work.”