Archive for the ‘curriculum’ Category

Understanding Standards

June 11, 2007

Originally published on The Quick and the Ed.

There has been much discussion of standards in the last week, fueled by the release of two major reports.  The National Center for Education Statistics raised some interesting questions about the rigor of state standards and variation between the states.  Their report compelled Secretary Spellings to argue against national standards on the editorial pages of the Washington Post.

There is some ambiguity in the use of the word “standards” in this debate.  In terms of curriculum,  standards are a specific description of what students should know and be able to do by the end of a course or grade level.  This is what we often mean by “national standards.”  In terms of assessment, standards are the level of performance to which students are held accountable — the difficulty of the test.  This is what we mean by “high standards” (which, incidentally, is also the reason women say they won’t go out with me).  It’s the difference between what a student should learn and how well they need to learn it to pass the test. 

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