How Are National Learning Standards Created?
Proponents of national learning standards see them as a way to raise the bar of educational performance in the U.S. If such standards were successful, they could affect the economy and growth of the country in the long run by helping American schools keep up with their international counterparts. These standards are helpful because they can help teachers know exactly what they have to teach and make students are aware of what they have to learn. A common goal is set for everyone to achieve. Moreover, if a student happens to change schools, the level of education remains the same and such a transition becomes smoother. There are, however, some who argue that strict standards give no room for innovation and do not call for any kind of creativity. This article describes how these standards are set while giving examples of a few subjects and how their standards came to be.
But, how are these standards set? While there are currently few mandated national standards, there are many voluntary standards set by those who have experience in a particular field. In many cases, the national councils or organizations for various subjects generally decide and set voluntary standards for state boards of education to use as models. For instance, standards for the arts have been designed by the National Arts Education Association and can be used as by any state when setting its arts curriculum.
Another example is the national learning standards for language learning. The National Council of Teachers of English has created standards for English and writing. These standards are written in such a way that any school district or regional/state education board can use them as a springboard when writing their respective curriculum standards. Moreover, they claim that their curriculum is designed in such a way that gives enough space for innovation and creativity among students. This however, is disputed by some in the educational community.
There are several other subject that do the same. The Association of Sports and Physical Education decide the health and physical education standards for K-12 education. The National Science Teachers Association sets Science education standards. In this subject, the NTSA works to continually include advanced sciences in the curriculum, but also see to it that the students do not face any difficulty in adjusting to the new set standards. Similarly, the respective councils decide the standards for history and social science.
While these standards are voluntary for any particular school, region, or state to adopt, more and more educational institutions are turning to these standards when writing, approving, and assessing curriculum. This trend, as well as the influence of the federal government on school policy, could lead to the involuntary adoption of national learning standards in the future. While some dislike the notion of national learning standards and fear their lack of flexibility, such standards do have their advantages, and are increasingly seen in the educational community as the best practices of any particular subject field, making them difficult to ignore when designing curriculum on the state, regional, or local level.