New National Education Standards for K-12 Students

A new set of national education standards was released this week by states officials. The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers collaborated with educators, policy makers and researchers to create the Common Core State Standards. The Standards outline exactly what students should be learning across all subjects from kindergarten through fifth grade and in mathematics, English and some history, science and technical subjects for students in sixth through twelfth grade in the United States.

Prior to the Standards, the United States was one of the few developed countries without a national standard of education in primary and secondary schools. Now, individual states can compare the progress of their students with that of other states across the nation and teachers can individually benchmark their students against the clearly outlined standards. Officials also claim that these new higher standards will better prepare students for some form of post-secondary education, or at least a more competitive workforce. With the cost of college tuition on the rise, it is believed that if high school students are better prepared for college, they will be less likely to need remedial classes, which can cost colleges a lot of money, and they will be more likely to stay in school and graduate.

The Chronicle of Higher Education states that "the standards call for increasingly complex and diverse readings and a focus on logic, research, and narrative writing. They also call for a mix of skills learning and conceptual understanding in math." While this seems like a great step forward in public education in this country, not everyone is happy about the Common Core State Standards. Texas and Alaska did not participate in the creation of the Standards and Virginia has already opted out of the program. Some critics suggest that expecting a diverse group of states to reach a standard level of education is unrealistic and harmful to the students. For example, working with low-income or minority students might require a more specialized curriculum than working with high-income or upper-middle class students. Officials claim that the Standards should be used by states as guidelines, while individual schools and teachers will choose how to meet those standards.

Whether you support the new Common Core State Standards, it is important to be knowledgeable about the education of our students. Do some research and decide for yourself if these national standards are what's best for our schools.

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