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Educational Standards – A Good Place to Start July 30, 2012

     This module has reinforced my support for district and state wide standards. At the onset of my career in education, I viewed standards as a lengthy and intimidating list of student expectations that I, as a teacher, needed to account for as I delivered the curriculum. Over the course of my tenure as a teacher, and especially throughout this module, I have come to realize that standards offer a starting point from which all curriculum and assessments are derived.  They are in place so that all students can have the opportunity to learn content that will prepare them for a future that is undefined and ever changing. Glen Hass (2010, p. 275) states that learning goals and standards that are thoughtfully developed with input from scholars, parents, citizens, students AND educators will be better able to “prepare learners to meet problems that are new and that neither they nor anyone else has ever encountered before.” It is reassuring to see that our up and coming Common Core State Standards has sought input from these very same critical stakeholders. The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices & Council of Chief State School Officers state in Common Core State Standards (2010, p.3) that they received research and input from “numerous sources, including state departments of education, scholars, assessment developers, professional organizations, educators from kindergarten through college, and parents, students, and other members of the public.”

       Standards also set up the ideal opportunity for collaboration amongst educators. Teachers across districts can work together and design curriculum that contributes to a pool of tried and true units that focus on shared standards. Wiggins and McTighe (2005, p. 318) suggest that these units could be field tested, evaluated, adjusted, and reviewed by experts. Exemplary units could then be made available to educators. No more remaking of the wheel!

     I do understand, however, that there is a certain amount of controversy surrounding the implementation of state standards. In my opinion, it is the way that these standards and their aligned assessments are perceived and implemented that tends to cause grief and dissatisfaction amongst educators, parents, the community, and the students themselves. Conditions such as teacher isolation, lack of teamwork, inconsistent use of the standards, and low expectations serve to thwart the intentions of state standards and assessments. (Marshall, 2010, pp. 278-287) Further, opponents of standards based education claim that standards favor students from advantaged backgrounds, could lead to the development of a national curriculum, is politically biased, diverts attention from more meaningful reform, and are too vague. (Parkay, et al., 2010, p. 254)  To me, most of these concerns are based on unfounded political fears and a lack of faith that ALL students can learn complex ideas.

Hass, G. (2010). Who should plan the curriculum? In F. Parkay, et al., Curriculum leadership: Readings for developing quality educational programs (pp. 278-287).Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Marshall, K. (2010). A principal looks back: Standards matter. In F. Parkay, et al., Curriculum leadership: Readings for developing quality educational programs (pp. 278-287).Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

National Governors Association Center for Best Practices & Council of Chief State School Officers. (2010). Common Core State Standards. Washington D.C.: National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers.

Parkay, F., et al. (2010). Curriculum leadership: Readings for developing quality educational programs. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Wiggins, G, & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design. Alexandria, Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

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