Within the education system and in its context—

• How are nationally developed standards being received and interpreted?

• What actions have been taken in response?

• What has changed as a result?

• What components of the system have been affected and how?

Among teachers who have been exposed to nationally developed standards—

• How have they received and interpreted those standards?

• What actions have they taken in response?

• What, if anything, about their classroom practice has changed?

• Who has been affected and how?

Among students who have been exposed to standards-based practice—

• How have student learning and achievement changed?

• Who has been affected and how?

FIGURE 3–3 A Set of Guiding Questions for Investigating the Influences of Nationally Developed Standards

  • The channels of influence are complex and interactive, both with other components of the education system and among different levels of jurisdiction. For example, changes in the curriculum framework of a state may affect a district’s teacher-development program.

  • The time needed for the influences of any set of standards to traverse the system may be long. One of the principal players in the development of standards wrote that the estimate of “a decade or longer” to implement the standards was “modest” (Collins, 1997).

  • Reform ideas may be altered or ignored for various reasons (including prior beliefs and ongoing debate) as they work their way through the education system. Thus, nationally developed standards may stimulate the intended changes, create a backlash, or result in no changes at all.

  • Local, state, and regional variability within the U.S. education system all imply that teachers and students are likely to be influenced differently within different locales, depending on available resources, participant backgrounds, and other factors.

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