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National Standards: Wide Adoption Likely

Student in Class

The long-awaited set of national academic standards was finally released with great fanfare this month at a press conference in Atlanta. The Common Core State Standards, which indicate which math and English skills students should master during their K-12 years, were written by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the country’s state school chiefs, the New York Times reports. They were a year in the making and were refined in recent weeks based on recommendations made after the March draft version was released.

The Obama administration is keen for states to adopt the voluntary standards. Right now, the Times explains, the country is blanketed by a crazy quilt of various state standards that differ so much that test scores in one state can’t be compared to those in the next. Such differences can make life hard for students who move from one state to another. Moreover, the Times notes, in recent years, some states have watered down their standards to avoid penalties in the No Child Left Behind law. Business Week predicts that by year-end, as many as 40 states should have adopted the standards. Only two — Texas and Alaska — opted not to aid the effort to draft them. Some Republican members of Congress have charged that the standards are an unneeded federal intrusion into local schools. But the NGA counters that the standards don’t dictate what or how schools teach, only what skills and knowledge students should master.

For example, the standards say eighth graders should be able to use the Pythagorean Theorem to find the distance between points on the coordinate plane, and that, by high school, students should master advanced algebra, geometry, and statistics.

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