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New National Academic Standards Released

school-standards-hmed-130ahmediumThis morning, a coalition of governors and school chiefs from 48 states and the District of Columbia issued their proposal for new, national English and math standards for students in grades K-12.

The standards are a move toward ensuring that every student is expected to leave school with the same body of knowledge and abilities no matter where they are from, so that they will be fully prepared for college or work after graduating high school. It would replace the current state standards, which some critics believe states have watered down in response to the high-stakes testing of No Child Left Behind, and which vary wildly. Only Alaska and Texas rejected the standards, which will be available for public comment until April 2.

The standards require, for example, that every student be able to complete a proof of the Pythagorean theorem, and be able to explain how recurring images and events contribute to the development of a central theme in a piece of literature, by the end of 8th grade. It also suggests much more nonfiction reading in the sciences than students generally do now.

Suggested texts for kids in 6th-8th grade are also included in the standards, and range from Donald Crews’ “Trucks” at the kindergarten level to Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women for 6th-8th graders.

According to a statement released by the group, known as the Common Core Standards Initiative, the standards are intended to align with college and work expectations, be clear, understandable and consistent, include rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order skills, build upon strengths and lessons of current state standards, and be informed by other top performing countries, so that all students are prepared to succeed in our global economy and society and are evidence-based.

There’s lots more to this, of course, and you can view the standards at the CCSI website here, as well as a good rundown of what the issues are surrounding the adoption of the standards in this Washington Post story here. What do you think? Should there be a voluntary national curriculum?

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