How to Raise the Standard in America's Schools

Our students are falling behind their counterparts in the rest of the world, threatening the U.S.ís economic future. Why national education standards are the only way to fix the system

Walter Bibikow / Corbis

National standards have long been the third rail of education politics. The right chokes on the word national, with its implication that the feds will trample on the states' traditional authority over public schools. And the left chokes on the word standards, with the intimations of assessments and testing that accompany it. The result is a K-12 education system in the U.S. that is burdened by an incoherent jumble of state and local curriculum standards, assessment tools, tests, texts and teaching materials. Even worse, many states have bumbled into a race to the bottom as they define their local standards downward...

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