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ERIC Number: ED507800
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jun
Pages: 48
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
National Education Standards: Getting beneath the Surface. Policy Information Perspective
Barton, Paul E.
Educational Testing Service
This report discusses issues involved in the debate over whether the United States should have national education standards, what must be considered in creating such standards, what problems must be addressed, and what trade-offs might be required among conflicting objectives. The first section provides a short summary of developments in education over the past couple of decades. The current movement toward common standards has not suddenly appeared, but comes with a history of starts and stops--evidence that a clear and lasting consensus has not yet emerged. Next follows information about who has been saying what about bringing national standards into existence; then, what advocates and detractors mean when they talk about standards. Often, their meanings differ. Many people have indeed given serious thought to the standards issue, and collaborations have developed to find commonality. This report summarizes progress on that front. The "Recognizing Variation" section picks up on one of the hot topics of today. Underlying the effort for standards and commonality is an understanding of the significant variations nationwide in curriculum, content, and assessment quality. This report addresses three distinct kinds of variation: "content/curriculum," "performance standards," and "student achievement," the latter of which is typically expressed in terms of a cut-score on a test. Discussions of standards have not always identified which set of variations are being addressed, thereby not fully identifying what needs fixing. Comprehending the complexity of all three variations is important to the standards discussion, as differences within each type can be extraordinary. Finally, this report advances some of the choices that need to be made, risks that those choices will entail, and difficulties that will be involved in achieving common standards. Many of these issues arise from the country's long history of building its education system from the ground up and at the local level, as well as from the great diversity of local and state populations and their economies. (Contains 2 tables, 2 figures and 35 footnotes)
Educational Testing Service. Rosedale Road Mailstop 19R, Princeton, NJ 08541-0001. Tel: 609-921-9000; Fax: 609-734-5410; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Educational Testing Service
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Elementary and Secondary Education Act; No Child Left Behind Act 2001