• September 4, 2015

New National Standards Seek to Make All Students Ready for College

Higher-education groups praised a set of a national standards for elementary and secondary education that governors and state education officials announced on Wednesday, saying the guidelines would help improve college preparedness and accessibility.

The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers collaborated with educators, researchers, and other experts to write the Common Core State Standards, which outline specific expectations for what students should learn across all subjects in kindergarten through fifth grade.

The groups also specified what students in sixth through 12th grade should learn in mathematics and English, as well as levels of literacy in history, science, and technical subjects.

The standards call for increasingly complex and diverse readings and a focus on logic, research, and narrative writing. They also call for a mix of skills learning and conceptual understanding in math.

Officials say meeting the standards will prepare student to be ready for college and the work force.

College officials say they will prepare teachers to help students meet the new standards and will also help the governors' association and school-officers' council determine ways to assess the effectiveness of the standards.

Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president for government and public affairs at the American Council on Education, said that having states work toward common standards for preparing students could help reduce the number of people who need extra academic preparation once they reach college.

"If you're academically prepared for college, you're far more likely to graduate," Mr. Hartle said. "Remedial education is expensive and inefficient, and if we're able to reduce it, we'll be able to focus on college-level work."


1. jnewell - June 02, 2010 at 03:43 pm

In this Era of Responsibility, just how responsible will Parents be?

2. williamandrew - June 02, 2010 at 04:11 pm

"Officials say meeting the standards will prepare students to be ready for college and the work force." Q: What ever happened to a universal education focus on skills needed for full and responsible, participatory citizenship in a democracy? This focus has different requirements and preparation than that for being a good corporate employee.

3. 22235124 - June 02, 2010 at 04:53 pm

In my 40+ years of classroom experience in secondary schools and higher education, I have never seen any set of standards, expectations, implementations, etc., work unless there is MAJOR input from classroom instructors. Top-down and one-size-fits-all dicta from above has never worked, nor will it ever. The National Association of Governors and the Council of State School Officers are NOT the Vatican!

4. jack_433 - June 02, 2010 at 05:09 pm

Oh yes, yet another foray infringing on state's rights and balooning the nanny society. On November 2, 2010 there will be a revolution in this country that will put the controlling big government interests on their heals. Americans are going to say, "Get off my back. I am sick and tired of this and I am not going to take it anymore."

5. 22122488 - June 02, 2010 at 05:11 pm

One of the benefits of endorsing national standards, is that a high school diploma once again will mean something. Moreover, such standards will eventually eliminate the Billions of Dollars spent in remediation at the private or college level each year. We have to be careful however with the type of testing we develop that tests those standards. Such exams should be well thought out so as to discourage memorization and rote learning. We need to be creative with both the language we frame the standards as well as the exams that test for those standards. Towards that end I agree with comments made by #3 - that instructors in the field should be included in those teams. They have first hand experience of the problems and can offer valuable advice on how to best set and frame those standards and the exams that go with them.

6. wilsonk - June 02, 2010 at 05:20 pm

The one-size-fits-all focus on preparing everyone for college is misplaced. College isn't for everyone. We would do better to provide a rigorous, standards-based education to age 15, then allow students and their parents to select apprenticeships, technical education, or college preparation--postsecondary education to be sure, but not college for everybody.

7. eacowan - June 02, 2010 at 05:54 pm

Throwing in standards for the "workplace" in grade school education is misguided. Including it at the college and university level is an abdication of responsibility by the "workplace" itself for paying for apprenticeship programs for prospective employees. The inclusion of the "world of work" in a university education amounts to an academic atrocity, being a function that academe will never be able to carry out. Back to the drawing board... --E.A.C.

8. bag31050 - June 02, 2010 at 07:59 pm

What will we do with those that do not meet the standards? Let me guess they are under privileged so they will get into colleges that serve minority students.

The world still needs skilled workers, electricians, plumbers, mechanics, masons, computer repairpersons the list continues. Where do they get their training? High School not any more nor at most community colleges.

Then there is the group that used to fill the ranks of the military during the days of conscription, what do we do with them.

The fact is that to many under prepared students are admitted to colleges today and will in the future because more and more state and federal funding is tied to retention and graduation rates then on academic excellence.

9. princeton67 - June 02, 2010 at 09:38 pm

1. Did Texas sign on? You know, the state whose Board of Education just attacked and lessened any discussion of evolution, global warning, and the civil rights movement.
2. Of course, top athletes will (continue to be)be exempt from normal requirements.

10. jdskoog - June 03, 2010 at 08:12 am

International comparisons of the mathematics curricula and student achievement in mathematics provide evidence that change in needed in how the math curriculum in this nation is structured and how it is taught. The common standards developed are designed to prepare individuals for the world of work and as well as entry into college. Teachers and professors were involved in developing the standards, which provide direction rather than prescriptions. Review them! Texas and Alaska have not joined the effort to develop these standards.

11. 11337886 - June 03, 2010 at 08:51 am

I wonder where foreign language fits in?

12. ajsturtz - June 03, 2010 at 09:22 am

Mayhaps the title of the article is incorrect. Have any of you taken a step back and thought that maybe, just maybe, the ability to read, write, spell, use proper grammar, and have basic mathematical skills just might be necessary for all citizens to function in society whether they attend college or not?

13. 22122488 - June 03, 2010 at 12:23 pm

To the comments in #12 - we are already making such demands in tests that the states give for Driver's License and many other form filling obligations that a USA citizens must perform. Yet I cannot figure out how the 30 million Americans who are illiterate managed to get their Driver's License or cope with many other similar obligations. Let us integrate more demanding reading and Mathematics skills in tests that the states give for a Driver's License. Anyone who has a license to drive should be able to recognize and read posted signs such Work ahead or Diversion or No entry - just as much what the number 30 or 55 mph means. They also need to read and comprehend the written test for their license. Let us also remember that a Driver's License is NOT a right but a privilege. The arguments are many- that minimum national standards will be the right first step in addressing this crisis. Let us remember the gloomy message of the 1983 Nation at Risk report on the state of our education. This sentence sums up the crisis we are facing.

"If an unfriendly power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves. We have even squandered the gains in achievement made in the wake of the Sputnik challenge. Moreover, we have dismantled essential support systems which helped make those gains possible. We have, in effect, been committing an act of unthinking, unilateral educational disarmament." (page 5)

14. jesor - June 03, 2010 at 03:04 pm

My understanding of this initiative is that it isn't something that's been legislated and attached to funds, but that it's a voluntary set of standards that states can adopt. As for teacher input, with careful reading it also appears that teachers have been consulted (I was taught to read carefully and think critically in the public ed system).
I am however doubtful that implementation of these standards will ever happen. Having been raised by a teacher, and now working in higher education, I have seen too many incidents where a standard is adopted with good intentions, solid research, and a public need behind it, but is then dropped when parents protest having to spend time with their kids on homework rather than soccer games and teacher's unions (not necessarily individual teachers) complain about the extra work involved.

Until other reforms exist like the inclusion of merit in pay and retention decisions, and real consequences for parents who refuse to believe that their little angel isn't a naturally gifted honor student, educational policy in the US will get nowhere.

15. spc09lib - June 03, 2010 at 04:41 pm

The idea that all students k-5 (or even k-7) be taught a core curriculum is very acceptable especially if it isn't so jammed with requirements that the classroom teacher has no time left for enrichment or local additions (not to mention music and art). The idea that we prepare every child for college is an indication that we have our heads in the sand or some other unintelligent location (my complements to #6). Beyond that objection, the normal course for such efforts as this is for the state to decide to adopt these guidelines and add to them a standardized test (God forgive us for ever starting that) directed and mandated by legislators and administrators who either have never taught or have not been in the classroom in so long they have forgotten what it is like. Then we teach the test and forget about creative teaching or molding our instruction to the local population. Keep scores high or lose your funding.
P.S. Thanks #9 for the cheap shot at Texas. It added so much.

16. darrell_in_dallas - June 04, 2010 at 09:54 am

To spc09lib: I'm in Texas, too. And, frankly, we've earned and deserve that cheap shot.

17. 11152886 - June 16, 2010 at 06:49 pm

In Driver Education I discovered that to pass a test for a driver's license in NYS, one's reading level merely has to be at the 3rd grade level. This is frightening. Nothing about reasoning or conceptual thinking. Get back to basics in the schools. People can't even make change anymore. I agree with Wilsonk and ajsturtz that not everyone needs or should go to college to have a place in life.

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