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Standards and School Reform: Asking the Essential Questions

Abstract

"Much talk about school reform today is talk about standards. References to standards lurk especially within the questions that policy makers pose: Are American kids learning as much math as their German or Singaporean peers? Do they know as much American history as their parents did? Do they write as well as kids used to? Are teachers professional enough? Is there enough choice in the system? Is the economy well served by our schools? Such questions multiply today with a force that people who work in schools sometimes find offensive. They are accustomed, after all, to an accountability based on norms rather than criteria, and they are understandably confused as to which of the many criteria proposed have the most merit. Not surprisingly, their reaction is often defensive. ..."

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