Earlier this month the National Governors Association for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers announced that 49 states (Alaska has not joined) and the District of Columbia have signed on to an initiative that would establish common education standards for math and language arts in grades K-12. These standards will be voluntary for states to adopt and will “be research and evidence-based, internationally benchmarked, aligned with college and work expectations and include rigorous content and skills.” Although many oppose federally mandated school standards, this movement is voluntary and led/controlled by state leaders.
At present, states have different visions for what children should learn in each grade. This leads to significant gaps in preparedness between schools in different regions of the US (see an earlier blog post here). Common standards could address this issue, especially if these common standards applied for early education as well. As Sara Mead states in her blog, it is important that states “begin with a solid core of aligned, challenging standards in the early grades (including pre-k) that offer meaningful guidance to teachers, support vertical and horizontal curricular alignment, and put elementary school children on a path towards proficiency in later grades.”