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Topic: "Are standards the basis for progress or equity?"

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Topic started by: Brian Drayton on 1/27/14

What is the theory of action for the standards (the new ones or any)? What are the other ingredients that could make the ultimate goals into some kind of reality? A recent exploration of the meanings of "equity" raise perennial unanswered questions.

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Standards plus what?

posted by: Brian Drayton on 1/27/2014 8:28 am

A new paper published in EPAA (
entitled "It's not education by zip code anymore -but what is it?" is very thought provoking. The authors interviewed several "reform entrepreneurs" associated with the Common Core, and explored with them their understandings of equity. The general impression is of thoughtful and humane people who have nuanced views of what equity in education should mean - but when probed about how standards fit into a process for progress, the respondents seem at a loss. What's the theory of action? How's it supposed to work?

standards are ....

posted by: Gabriel Della-Piana on 1/30/2014 1:18 pm

Standards are reminders of our professional values.
They are not algorithms, so they require knowledge and skills of professionals to move from standard, to assessment, and to action based on information gathered.
Also, they neglect to provide a rationale for "why this framework rather than a competing one" based on a variety of criteria it would take too much space to go intol
Finally, we probably need more examples of application of standards than we need new standards.
And this is just the beginning of the problems to address.

Lessons about standards from PISA

posted by: Andy Zucker on 1/31/2014 8:38 am

OECD published an entire volume about lessons for the United States from the 2012 PISA assessment. They claim that higher education standards are important. (E.g., American students did best on math items categorized as easy, and were not sufficiently exposed in school to harder application problems -- as domestic studies have shown, as well.) At the same time, OECD points out that there are greater effects of inequality of opportunity among American students than in many other education systems. OECD's claim is that higher standards AND greater attention to inequality are needed to improve outcomes in the U.S. (plus more thoughtful use of high stakes tests, etc.). I summarize this view as, "one cheer for education standards" because three cheers would be too many.

"Courageous Conversations" In The Name of Equality

posted by: Debra Olson on 2/3/2014 5:22 pm

I have just begun reading a book entitled "Courageous Conversations About Race: A Field Guide for Achieving Equity in Schools" as a part of a professional learning community on my campus. I am only now reading the 3rd chapter, but its thesis appears to be that directly addressing institutionalized racism and racially biased practices is a key to closing all achievement gaps, not only those defined by race. The coming chapters promise to lay out a template for starting and fostering the courageus conversations needed to truly address this important issue. I look forward to being a part of the conversation on my campus and wonder if others are also initiating this kind of work.

Courageous Conversations -

posted by: Tracie Salinas on 2/4/2014 8:29 am

Debra - The College of Education on our campus has also begun a series on Courageous Conversations. The first was about race, and the second was about Poverty and Socioeconomic Status. The conversations have been focused primarily on how these issues affect the faculty at our institution directly (and then more broadly how that affects our students). I think one interesting idea that came from the initial discussions was that as educators, sometimes we may change the focus of an equity-oriented discussion to how to prepare our students for dealing with issues of equity but then fail to address those same issues within the infrastructure of our own campus. There will be more of these conversations this semester.

"Courageous Conversations" In The Name of Equality

posted by: Mary Govan on 2/4/2014 10:03 am

Tracie, I am not in a college setting but in a K-12 setting. I am glad this type of conversation is taking place to address the race issue and poverty and socioeconomic status. I my-self am currently experiencing race issue. I am not black or white but from a different country which is in the way of my goal to be an instructional leader. Where I come from values education highly. I know I am a great Instructional leader and a great manager. K-12 community try to teach students about racial equality and at the same time they practice racial equality. When this will stop?

post updated by the author 2/4/2014

Standards are equity-neutral

posted by: Gerry Meisels on 2/4/2014 12:25 pm

Debra, You may wish to read something else as well:

Why Aren't We There Yet?: Taking Personal Responsibility for Creating an Inclusive Campus (An ACPA Publication... by Jan Arminio, Vasti Torres and Raechele L. Pope. The bottom line to me developed after a great Seminar given by Vasti Torres is simple: we must establish and institutionalize culture of sensitivity to each individual and his/her background. In the STEM disciplines laboratories provide a major opportunity to individualize relationships, but introduce another complexity. Typically a substantial fraction of Teaching Assistants come from other countries and cultures, and therefore often require an introduction to the culture and values of theier students.

As to the main question, standards are equity-neutral. They provide a goals statement of what a student shioud know and be able to do. Standards provide a definition of where to go. A limping paralell is the definition of where someone wants to go (a city or address). That alone will not get her there. The next step is to decide how to get there, the mode of transportation (train, plane, car ...), i.e. curriculum and instruction. It is in that stage that achieving equity must be part of the plan. This is as true in a university (where I am) as it is in the K-12 environment.

Standards "equity neutral"?

posted by: Brian Drayton on 2/6/2014 7:53 am

I understand the "equity-neutral" view, but I believe that the authors of the article I cited above (Kornhaber et al.) make a strong case that the theory of action envisioned by the standards-developers is linked to a vision of equity that will tend to perpetuate inequities. It's not by intent, but an example of unexamined assumptions. I am reminded of David Berliner's AERA address, "Our impoverished view of education reform" (you can find it in the MSPnet library
I think Kornhaber et al. present a helpful framework to encourage the discussion of assumptions in this area - how standards might either support or limit efforts to improve equity?