Common Standards for K-12 Education?

Considering the Evidence

SUMMARY OF A WORKSHOP SERIES

Alexandra Beatty, Rapporteur

Committee on State Standards in Education: A Workshop Series

Center for Education

Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS

Washington, D.C.
www.nap.edu



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Common Standards for k-12 Education? Considering the Evidence Summary of a WorkShop SerieS Alexandra Beatty, Rapporteur Committee on State Standards in Education: A Workshop Series Center for Education Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This study was supported by a contract between the National Academy of Sci- ences and the James B. Hunt, Jr. Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this pub- lication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project. International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-12524-6 International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-12524-3 Additional copies of this report are available from National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu. Copyright 2008 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America Suggested citation: National Research Council. (2008). Common Standards for K-12 Education?: Considering the Evidence: Summary of a Workshop Series. Alexandra Beatty, Rapporteur. Committee on State Standards in Education: A Workshop Series. Center for Education, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal govern- ment on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its mem- bers, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advis- ing the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in pro- viding services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org

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COMMITTEE ON STATE STANDARDS IN EDuCATION: A WORkSHOP SERIES LORRAINE McDONNELL (Chair), Department of Political Science, University of California, Santa Barbara THOMAS B. CORCORAN, Consortium for Policy Research and Education, Teacher’s College, Columbia University ROBERT LINN, Department of Education (emeritus), University of Colorado, Boulder WILLIAM TATE, Department of Arts and Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis LAURESS WISE, Human Resources Research Organization, Monterey, CA KAREN WIxSON, School of Education, University of Michigan STUART ELLIOTT, Co-study Director LISA TOWNE, Co-study Director ALExANDRA BEATTY, Senior Program Officer MARGARET HILTON, Senior Program Officer KELLY DUNCAN, Program Assistant v

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Preface S tandards-based accountability has become a central feature of the public education system in each state and is a theme of national dis- cussions about how achievement for all students can be improved and achievement gaps narrowed. Questions remain, however, about the implementation of standards and accountability systems and about whether their potential benefits have been fully realized. Each of the 50 states has adopted its own set of standards, and though there is overlap among them, there is also wide variation in the ways states have devised and implemented their systems. This variety may have both advantages and disadvantages, but it nevertheless raises a fundamental question: Is the establishment of common K-12 academic standards, which states could voluntarily adopt, the logical next step for standards-based reform? The National Research Council, with support from the James B. Hunt, Jr. Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy, sponsored a set of workshops to examine the possibilities for common standards. The goal of this project was not to answer the policy question of whether or not common standards would be a good idea. Rather, the goal was to provide an objective look at the available evidence regarding the ways in which standards are currently functioning, the strategies that might be used to pursue common standards, and the issues that doing so might pres- ent. The workshops were planned by the Committee on State Standards in Education, whose membership reflects diverse policy and research perspectives. The workshop series focused first on the role that standards have been vii

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viii PREFACE playing in the states, and included a review of the policy and research context in which current standards-based reform efforts are operating, a consideration of how the costs of standards and accountability sys- tems might be calculated, and an analysis of similarities and differences among states’ content and performance standards. The second workshop addressed possible options for establishing common education standards, criteria for evaluating different approaches, and the tradeoffs that this course might entail, as viewed from a variety of perspectives. This report summarizes the presentations and discussions from both workshops, which were held in January and March 2008.1 This workshop summary has been reviewed in draft form by indi- viduals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the Report Review Committee of the National Research Council. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the process. We thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Julie Bell, Education Program, National Conference of State Legislature, Denver, CO; Suellen Reed, Department of Public Instruction, Indianapolis Department of Edu- cation; Barbara Reys, Learning Teaching and Curriculum, University of Missouri; and Lori Taylor, The Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University. Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the content of the report, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Diana C. Pullin, Lynch School of Education, Boston College. Appointed by the National Research Council, she was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the author and the institution. The committee would also like to thank the co-study directors of this project, Stuart Elliott and Lisa Towne, for their leadership throughout; 1A report summarizing the first workshop was published shortly after it was held so that the material covered could be made available as quickly as possible. This second report is designed to supersede that report; much of the text from that report is thus repeated or modified here. The first report, Assessing the Role of K-12 Academic Standards in the States Workshop Summary, is available at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12207.

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ix PREFACE Margaret Hilton for her help in planning and organizing both workshops; Alix Beatty for drafting both reports; and Kelly Duncan for excellent logis- tical support. We also gratefully acknowledge the contributions of report editors Genie Grohman and Christine McShane, and report review officer Kirsten Sampson Snyder. Last but not least, the committee extends sincere thanks to Judith Rizzo and her colleagues at the Hunt Institute for their support and advice throughout the process. Lorraine McDonnell, Chair Committee on State Standards in Education: A Workshop Series

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Contents 1 INTRODUCTION 1 2 CONSIDERING THE STATUS QUO 5 Views from the States, 5 Variability in Content and Performance Standards and Assessments, 11 Paradoxes, 25 3 CONSIDERING THE OPTIONS 27 4 ANALYzING QUALITY AND IMPACT 31 Quality of Content Standards, 31 Impact of Standards on Teaching and Learning, 34 5 COSTS 39 Cost Estimation Framework, 40 Applying the Framework in Three States, 42 Estimating the Cost of Educational Adequacy, 48 6 POLITICAL AND LEGAL CONSIDERATIONS 53 Political Feasibility, 53 Implications for Educational Adequacy Litigation, 55 xi

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xii CONTENTS 7 PERSPECTIVES ON COMMON STANDARDS 59 Two Examples, 59 Researchers, 62 Elected Officials, 64 Implementers, 65 8 CONCLUDING REFLECTIONS 69 Synthesis, 69 Closing Thoughts, 72 REFERENCES 75 APPENDIxES A January 2008 Workshop Agenda and Participants 77 B March 2008 Workshop Agenda and Participants 85