Published Online: July 23, 2009 : MY COMMENTS FOLLOW IN THE NEXT TWO POSTS BELOW
Draft Content Standards Elicit Mixed Reviews
A draft of common academic standards, meant to bring greater coherence to the nation’s English and mathematics lessons, is drawing a mix of enthusiastic, ambivalent, and barbed responses from those who have seen it.
The working document, which was unexpectedly put out for public consumption yesterday, is meant to serve as the first step of a standards-writing process, led by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The crafting and review of those academic guidelines is expected to play out at least through the end of the year.
The draft that was circulated on the Web yesterday attempts to set “college- and career-readiness” standards for English and math—the skills students need to succeed in credit-bearing postsecondary courses and workforce-training programs.
From there, the NGA, CCSSO, and other organizations collaborating on the project will attempt to move back through the K-12 system, crafting English and math standards for earlier grades. Eventually, it will be up to state education leaders to accept or reject the final documents, after they have gone through several iterations, officials from the governors’ and chiefs’ organizations say.
Unlike some standards documents, the draft does not break out skills and knowledge by grade level—a level of detail that is expected to come, in some form, later. Instead, it spells out core standards, concepts, and principles in English and math in very simple terms, then provides more detailed explanations of what is meant by that guidance. It also offers sample texts for English, such as the Declaration of Independence, and sample problems, or “performance tasks” in math.
Forty-six states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have signed on to the common standards work so far, according to the NGA.
The draft document began drawing public reaction after it was unexpectedly posted on the Web site of Core Knowledge, a Charlottesville, Va., organization that advocates grounding students in a foundational and specific set of content across subjects.