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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

What to do if states set their education standards too low?



It's become a problem as Florida and the rest of the 49 try to compete nationally and internationally, and yet they can barely make comparisons because every state has different standards.

Compounding the situation, one recent report suggests that several states have reduced their standards . That has sparked a campaign to create a common core curriculum nationally.

Is that the answer? Florida has joined the effort, but Marcus Winters of the Manhattan Institute suggests a different, perhaps more attainable approach: Give states an incentive to increase standards on their own, independently.

He puts forth that two "simple amendments" to No Child Left Behind could get us there.

  • "First, remove the law's disincentives for states to adopt higher standards."
  • Second, allow states to continue to create and administer their own tests. But every few years, the federal government would give the tests to a national sampling to ensure they meet a difficulty level across the states.
"This system would still allow the definition of proficiency to vary. But it would at least encourage the proficiency benchmark to increase over time," Winters writes. "In this system, the answer to the question, 'What should students know?' would always be 'More!' "

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:47am]


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