The committee developed the graphic representation of these choice points shown in Figure 3-1. The graphic is structured to emphasize that possibilities in each of these areas exist along a continuum, and that in practice the categories might be blended in innovative ways.

Any number of factors might also influence decisions about the development process, the scope, and the implementation, but most are likely to be subsumed under four primary categories: quality, equity, feasibility, and opportunity cost. The committee therefore developed a second component to the framework to guide discussion of how one might evaluate competing approaches to common standards, shown in Table 3-1.

The framework was intended simply as a guide to discussion, to ensure that key elements were not overlooked. Participants referred back to it frequently but also pointed out several elements that it does not take into account. The forward momentum of institutions that are already in place is one factor that is not addressed—particularly the assessment and accountability structures at the state and federal levels, which are likely to have a powerful influence over any changes that could be made to standards. As one participant put it, “the standards conversation could get trapped by the problem of how and what you measure—so that has to be on the table from the start.” Another pointed out that policy change rarely takes place according to logical frameworks, and that a bottom-up push, perhaps stimulated by the examples set by independent groups, such as the advanced placement or international baccalaureate programs, could end up influencing the outcome significantly.

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