American Education Standards: New Possibilities

Thursday, October 25, 2007 (All day)

All students, no matter where they live, have the right to a quality education that will prepare them for life. In the past, high school graduates could be placed in high-paying jobs without high level skills in mathematics or reading. But the workplace is changing. Occupations that pay enough to support a family - jobs like electrical work, construction, upholstering, and plumbing - now demand the same math and reading skills it takes to be successful in college. Two-thirds of new jobs being created in today's economy require higher education or advanced training. College prep is work prep. And both are preparation for life. But too many students are not learning what they need to be successful adults: More than two-thirds of students attend schools in states with mediocre expectations for what their students should learn.

All parents and taxpayers deserve honest information about how students are progressing in their learning. States with low expectations, however, paint a picture of progress that doesn't match reality; as a result, many parents don't know that their children lack adequate preparation in today's world. For example, although every state requires high school students to take tests, only a handful make sure those tests measure readiness for college and work. There is even troubling evidence that states are lowering their testing requirements to make students look like they are learning more than they really are. The above trends, left unchecked, will create a "race to the bottom" among states that will imperil efforts to raise student achievement and put America at even greater disadvantage internationally. What are the options - in a nation historically committed to local control of education - for setting and meeting truly effective national standards?

This colloquium event was moderated by Lauren Resnick, Director, LRDC and the Institute for Learning.