Pros and Cons of National Standards

For this weeks journal entry I decided to arrange some of my thoughts about Issue 1: Is it time for national standards in education? This is a huge and highly debated question.

Pros:

-Create a more coherent educational system and curricular goals

-Similar market for text, which would increase possibilities for lowering cost, streamlining technology, and bringing professionals together

-Enable educators to work more collaboratively on effective teaching strategies

-Allow better opportunities for measuring and comparing student progress

Cons:

-Centralizing curriculum may inhibit creativity of teachers and students

-Measuring student success and teacher success by AYP test scores fails to consider external life factors such as poverty, family issues, health issues, etc.

-A ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach assumes that all students and families share similar sentiments about what’s important to learn, how knowledge should be taught, and what the structure of a school should be.

The above ideas are a few that I believe to be noteworthy. Before I read this chapter I tried to decide where I stood on the matter. Initially, I swayed a bit more towards common standards because when people are united in a common goal they can align their resources and better the chances of success. I still believe this to be true, although I’m more doubtful that such is the case for national standards. I don’t wish to be a pessimist, but I’m not confident that centralizing our educational system will lead to better teaching and a higher students success rate. I fear that centralization will get messy, be used to measure teacher worth, compare schools, and lead to less teacher autonomy, and more regulations.

With that said, I do think that common standards can bring about positive change…if approached correctly. In my opinion, common standards should be used as a means to provide students with a shared awareness about the most important issues, skills and ideas. Common standards could help guide teachers in educating the young and ensure that all students receive access to valuable knowledge. The key is making sure that common standards do not shape how these issues, skills, and ideas are presented. We want to protect creativity, innovation, and critical thinking. Therefore, common standards should not impose a particular way of thinking rather they should be used as an agent to develop all our youth into respectful, cooperative, innovative, and valuable citizens.

Common standards would also be helpful in assessing student progress…again…if approached correctly. I believe students should be tested at the beginning of the year, mid-way through the year, and at the end of the year. The tests should be the same throughout the nation and graded by the teacher. Having the teacher grade the tests will take the focus away from using test results as a measurement of teacher worth and realign the focus on using the results as a way to improve instruction and address student need. This will also give teachers direct access to where the student begins, where he/she is mid-way through the year, and where he/she is at the end of the year. Keeping assessment between the student and teacher will help ensure the authenticity of the methods of measurement and the results.

References

Evans, D. (2008). Taking sides: clashing views in teaching and educational practices. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

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