Evaluating Public School Educational Standards

Parents want the best education possible for their children and assume that the public schools they are required to support with tax dollars will provide children with an education that will prepare them for life after graduation. According to a report released, most State Boards of Education are not holding themselves to even a mediocre standard. “The average grade for state standards across all subjects was a disappointing ‘C-Minus’.

State Standards are Linked to National Progress

When the results of state tests are released, local newspapers and newscasts often focus heavily on how their local community’s schools are performing in comparison to the rest of the state. Rarely, however, is there sufficient scrutiny given to quality of the education that the state providing. Sadly, two thirds of America’s children are being taught in schools whose state standards earned a C, D or F grade. Unless each state raises its standards, students who do well in school will still not be ready to take on the demands of the global economy of the information age.

Implications of Poor or Inadequate Standards

When the No Child Left Behind Act was passed, it required that states, school districts, schools and teachers be held accountable for the quality of public education being offered. This accountability requirement created the need for state tests to show that kids were learning what they needed to learn before graduation, so State Boards of Education had to standardize what was being taught in classrooms so that the tests could measure how well students were learning what is being taught.

What has occurred unfortunately is that school performance has become essential to remain eligible for funding. Administrators and teachers have been placed under enormous pressure to teach test content and to teach students how to take the test so that the school can perform well on the state test. While many students of these schools and school districts have become masterful test takers, if the tests are not based on solid standards that make students competitive in world economy, the effort is for naught.

Raising the Standards Bar

Once a state has been assessed as having inadequate standard, it would stand to reason that those standards would be re-evaluated so that better standards could be put in place; unfortunately, this has not occurred. Getting in the way of raising these standards are the egos of those who develop the standards and issues that are politically sensitive to address. For example, to receive a high grade in the area of science, evolution must be taught as a valid theory. In many areas of the country, teaching evolution is strongly discouraged and intensely debated among communities due to the religious implications of the two opposing theories.

Developing strong state standards is the first step in improving the US educational system. Giving teachers a solid blueprint from which to work will enhance student performance, enabling better performance on internationally reviewed exams. Take the time to know what the state standards are in your state; keep those who are responsible for reviewing and improving those standards accountable.

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