The number of the week is ...
... 1. As in, a single set of academic standards for all the nation's public schools.
Right now, every school district sets its own curriculum, every state has its own standards. Some make tough demands on students, while others have lower expectations. The result is a mixed bag, where families can't know if they move from school to school what they'll get. Algebra might be sixth-grade fare in one district but high school math in another. Even if they're taught at the same grade level, there's no promise that you'll get the same level of depth and rigor wherever you go.
The numbers bear this out. Almost all Mississippi fourth-graders, for instance, meet their state's reading demands but the vast majority fall woefully short when measured by on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. In Florida, by contrast, two-thirds of fourth-graders make the national mark, compared to 71 percent who are at grade level or above as determined by FCAT.
Noted education leaders Rudy Crew of Miami-Dade schools, Paul Vallas of Philadelphia schools and Michael Casserly of the Council of Great American Schools suggest in an Education Week column (registration required) that it's time to rethink the patchwork of standards and demands. They argue that international competition requires no less.
One? Or 50? How many sets of standards do we need?