Federal Researchers Find Lower Standards in Schools


In the first of its kind study by the U.S. Department of Education, results revealed that almost one-third of states have lowered their profieciency standards in reading and math in order to comply with the No Child Left Behind law.  As the New York Times article below reports, 15 states lowered their standards in either reading or math from 2005 to 2007, while three states, Maine, Oklahoma and Wyoming, lowered standards in “both subjects at both grade levels,” the study said.

Note:  Researchers compared the results of state tests and the National Assessment of Educational Progress in 2005 and 2007, identifying a score on the national assessment that was equivalent to each state’s definition of proficiency. To see these state by state comparison’s click on the imbedded link titled, “Score Discrepanices.”

In response to these results, U. S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan said, ““At a time when we should be raising standards to compete in the global economy, more states are lowering the bar than raising it,” and added, “We’re lying to our children.”  The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, Louis Fabrizio, described the dilemma: “When you set standards, do you want to show success under N.C.L.B. by having higher percentages of students at proficiency, in which case you’ll set lower standards?” Mr. Fabrizio asked. “Or do you want to do the right thing for kids, by setting them higher so they’re comparable with our global competitors?”

In the 21st century, new forces—cultural, political, environmental, and economic—are sweeping the world, causing Americans to reexamine the role of their country within these new global complexities.  No entity needs to respond more effectively to these changes than our nation’s schools. We need to find new ways to challenge students by helping them clarify their ideas, discover their talents, and maximize their possibilities.

What should all U.S. students be expected to know and understand about the world?

What skills and attitudes will our students need to confront future problems, which most assuredly will be global in scope?

What do scholars from the international relations disciplines and experienced practitioners of global education believe students should know, and how can these insights best be incorporated into the existing standards?


New York Times

by Sam Dillon

A new federal study shows that nearly a third of the states lowered their academic proficiency standards in recent years, a step that helps schools stay ahead of sanctions under the No Child Left Behind law. But lowering standards also confuses parents about how children’s achievement compares with those in other states and countries.

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