continuum. All of these differences make direct comparisons of standards difficult. By understanding that one size does not fit all, as Ruby remarked, those in the business of developing standards will be better able to discover ways of ensuring that they lead to the improvements that are hoped for.

When you've never seen what's possible, it's hard to raise the standards.

Mary Lindquist

Ruby and other international observers have been struck by the fact that many in the United States are obsessed not just with explicit standards, but with those of a chief economic rival, Japan. The need to compete economically has inspired and driven the urges to reform education and to learn from international comparisons. The workshop discussions served as a reminder that goals for education run deeper than a mere desire for economic parity or hegemony. Gains in understanding of the standards for education in other countries have shown that they grow out of profound social aspirations.

Perhaps the primary message from the workshop was a recognition that searching for an operational definition of world-class standards is, in Ruby's words, a search for a holy grail. A community that wants to raise its standards to an internationally competitive level cannot do so simply by writing clear, excellent guidelines for content and performance that are grounded in an understanding of high expectations elsewhere, even though that task itself may be difficult. Standards are not, in themselves, a reform—they are an organizing device through which a system can be reformed. From a variety of perspectives, the participants in the workshop seemed to say clearly that many elements in the education system are equally important to a successful outcome for students and that focusing on any one in isolation is unlikely to be worthwhile.

References

American Academy of Arts and Sciences 1995 American education: Still separate still unequal. Dædalus 124(4).

American Federation of Teachers 1995a Helping students in the middle: What average students can achieve when standards are high and stakes are clear. American Educator 19(4):2. Available: http://www.aft.org//middle.htm [March 24, 1997].

1995b Making Standards Matter: A Fifty-State Progress Report on Efforts to Raise Academic Standards. Washington, DC: AFT Educational Issues Department.


Campbell, Jay R., et al. 1996 NAEP 1994 Reading Report Card for the Nation and the States. National Center for Education Statistics. Washington, DC: U.S Department of Education.

Coleman, James S., Ernest Q. Campbell, and Carol J. Hobson 1966 Equality of Educational Opportunity. Available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare.



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--> continuum. All of these differences make direct comparisons of standards difficult. By understanding that one size does not fit all, as Ruby remarked, those in the business of developing standards will be better able to discover ways of ensuring that they lead to the improvements that are hoped for. When you've never seen what's possible, it's hard to raise the standards. Mary Lindquist Ruby and other international observers have been struck by the fact that many in the United States are obsessed not just with explicit standards, but with those of a chief economic rival, Japan. The need to compete economically has inspired and driven the urges to reform education and to learn from international comparisons. The workshop discussions served as a reminder that goals for education run deeper than a mere desire for economic parity or hegemony. Gains in understanding of the standards for education in other countries have shown that they grow out of profound social aspirations. Perhaps the primary message from the workshop was a recognition that searching for an operational definition of world-class standards is, in Ruby's words, a search for a holy grail. A community that wants to raise its standards to an internationally competitive level cannot do so simply by writing clear, excellent guidelines for content and performance that are grounded in an understanding of high expectations elsewhere, even though that task itself may be difficult. Standards are not, in themselves, a reform—they are an organizing device through which a system can be reformed. From a variety of perspectives, the participants in the workshop seemed to say clearly that many elements in the education system are equally important to a successful outcome for students and that focusing on any one in isolation is unlikely to be worthwhile. References American Academy of Arts and Sciences 1995 American education: Still separate still unequal. Dædalus 124(4). American Federation of Teachers 1995a Helping students in the middle: What average students can achieve when standards are high and stakes are clear. American Educator 19(4):2. Available: http://www.aft.org//middle.htm [March 24, 1997]. 1995b Making Standards Matter: A Fifty-State Progress Report on Efforts to Raise Academic Standards. Washington, DC: AFT Educational Issues Department. Campbell, Jay R., et al. 1996 NAEP 1994 Reading Report Card for the Nation and the States. National Center for Education Statistics. Washington, DC: U.S Department of Education. Coleman, James S., Ernest Q. Campbell, and Carol J. Hobson 1966 Equality of Educational Opportunity. Available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

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--> Education Week 1997 Quality Counts: A Report Card on the Condition of Public Education in the 50 States. XVI:January 22, 1997. A supplement to Education Week in collaboration with the Pew Charitable Trusts. Elley, Warwick B. 1992 How in the World Do Students Read? IEA Study of Reading Literacy. Hamburg: The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement. Floden, Robert E. 1996 Teachers' Choices About Content: The Standards in Use. Unpublished paper prepared for November 1996 symposium sponsored by the Board on International Comparative Studies in Education of the National Research Council, Washington, DC. Gagnon, Paul 1995 What should children learn? The Atlantic Monthly 276(6):65–78. International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement 1996a Mathematics Achievement in the Middle School Years: IEA's Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). Chestnut Hill, MA: Boston College. Available: http://wwwcsteep.bc.edu/timss [June 19, 1997]. 1996b Science Achievement in the Middle School Years: IEA's Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). Chestnut Hill, MA: Boston College. Available: http://wwwcsteep.bc.edu/timss [June 19, 1997]. Johnson, Jean, and John Immerwahr 1994 First Things First: What Americans Expect from the Public Schools. Report available from the Public Agenda Foundation, New York, NY. Lapointe, Archie E. 1992 Learning Mathematics: the Second International Assessment of Educational Progress . Princeton, NJ: Center for the Assessment of Educational Progress. LeMahieu, Paul G., and William E. Bickel 1996 The Public's and Policy Makers' Perspectives on Internationally Competitive Standards. Unpublished paper prepared for November 1996 symposium sponsored by the Board on International Comparative Studies in Education of the National Research Council, Washington, DC. Lezotte, Lawrence W. 1986 School Effectiveness: Reflections and Future Directions. Paper presented at the 1996 Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association. National Center for Education Statistics 1996 Pursuing Excellence: A Study of U.S. Eighth-Grade Mathematics and Science Teaching, Learning, Curriculum, and Achievement in International Context. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Commission on Excellence in Education 1983 A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform. A Report to the Nation and the Secretary of Education, U.S. Department of Education by the National Commission on Excellence in Education. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. National Education Goals Panel 1995 The National Education Goals Report: Building a Nation of Learners: 1995. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. National Research Council 1997 Learning from TIMSS: Results of the Third International Mathematics and Science Study, Summary of a Symposium. Alexandra Beatty, Editor. Board on International Comparative Studies in Education, Board on Testing and Assessment, Committee on Science Education K-12, and Mathematical Sciences Education Board. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

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--> Ravitch, Diane, ed. 1995 Debating the Future of American Education: Do We Need National Standards and Assessment? Report of a conference sponsored by the Crown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution. Available from the Brookings Institution, Washington, DC. Resnick, Lauren B., Katherine J. Nolan, and Daniel P. Resnick 1995 Benchmarking education standards. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 17(4):438–461. Rossmiller, Richard A., and Edie L. Holcomb 1993 The Effective Schools Process for Continuous School Improvement. Paper presented at the 1993 Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association. Wisconsin Center for Education Research, Madison. Ruby, Alan 1996 The Holy Grail of Education Reform: Internationally Competitive Standards. Unpublished paper prepared for November 1996 symposium sponsored by the Board on International Comparative Studies in Education of the National Research Council, Washington, DC. Stedman, Lawrence C. 1996 International achievement differences: An assessment of a new perspective. Educational Researcher 26(3):4–15. Steller, Arthur W. 1988 Effective Schools Research: Practice and Promise. Bloomington, IN: Phi Delta Kappa Educational Foundation. Toch, Thomas, with Robin M. Bennefield and Amy Bernstein 1996 The case for tough standards. In U.S. News Winter 1995–96, [Online]. Available: http://www.usnew.com/usnews.com/usnews/ISSUE/STAND.HTM [March 14, 1997]. U.S. News 1996 The U.S. News school standards poll: Most Americans say that school standards should be higher than they currently are, a new U.S. News poll reports . In U.S. News 3/23/96, [Online]. Available: http://www.usnews.com. usnews.NEWS.STANPOLL.HTM [March 14, 1997].

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