National standards being adopted as state standards; both get graded

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010 at 2:06 pm by

A couple pieces on the movement toward “common core,” quasi-national standards…

Today’s New York Times reports on movement by states to adopt the standards, one of the elements in Washington’s $4.5 billion “Race to the Top” competition.  States which agree to the standards gain points.

The Times reports that 27 states have adopted the standards since they were finalized by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers two months ago.

New York is among those states.  The Board of Regents approved the standards this past Monday.

Also today, the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation (no connection to Fordham University) issued a report grading state and national standards.

Fordham gives high marks to the national, common core standards – a B+ for English, an A- for mathematics.

The report gives middling grades to New York’s standards.  Our English language arts standards earn a C; 14 states received higher grades.  Our math standards received a B, below the grades earned by 12 other states.

Below are the report’s overview comments on New York’s standards.

The analysis did not look at the work of the state’s committee reviewing ELA standards, chaired by Regent Saul Cohen and coordinated by former Skaneateles superintendent Walter Sullivan, long-time chair of the Council’s Curriculum and Instruction Committee.

Adoption of the national standards throws into question the status of that effort.  Also, critics in New York and elsewhere argue that national standards intrude on a state responsibility and that they could level down standards.

It needs to be noted, however, that states may supplement the national standards by up to 15 percent with state-developed standards.  Flexibility is probably even greater than the percentage figure suggests since standards are not easily quantified.

Excerpt from the Fordham Foundation’s The State of State Standards — and the Common Core — in 2010overview comments on New York State:

English Language Arts and Literacy
Grade:  C – The presentation of the New York State Learning Standards for ELA—and the accompanying English Language Arts Core Curriculum—is somewhat confusing; and although much of the essential K-12 ELA content is included, it is often buried among non-essential standards more focused on instruc­tional strategies than on student outcomes. In addition, many vaguely worded standards leave too much room for weak or inconsistent implemen­tation across schools and districts.

Mathematics
Grade:  B – New York’s standards are generally strong. They cover much of the essential content with both depth and rigor. The main weakness in the standards is with the development of arithmetic. Though it is reasonably prioritized, its coverage is not quite rigorous enough. High school content is often strong, including STEM-ready material.

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