What began with only about half the states participating has now expanded to become almost a 100 percent nationwide effort. The Washington Post reports that 46 states and several US territories have signed on to a program to develop common education standards.
This effort was started by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Kentucky joined it after passage of Senate Bill 1 last spring, as we mentioned in a previous Blog item.
By the way, the CCSSO is headed by former Kentucky Commissioner of Education Gene Wilhoit.
Anyway, regardless of the number of states now participating, the key question is whether or not the results will really be what our kids need.
Hopeful signs include participation of some very excellent organizations such as the Educational Testing Service (which does the SAT college entrance test) and the ACT, Incorporated, which does the ACT college entrance test.
However, it also looks like the effort is going to “duck” some critical questions about how to best teach math and reading as it tries to smooth easily ruffled feathers. And, those feathers may not smooth easily.
The Post quotes Michael J. Petrilli from the Thomas B. Fordham Institution as saying, “There are fundamental disagreements in our society about what kids should learn.” That’s definitely true. How well the NGA/CCSSO can overcome contested issues in education is far from certain.
Certainly, comments I am already seeing in various liberal and conservative oriented Listservs indicate a battle royal may be forming.
By the way, the Post also messes up on one important point. My understanding is states that join the NGA/CCSSO effort have agreed to adopt at least 85 percent of the final package of standards. So, good or bad, it looks like these “national” standards are coming to Kentucky.