Sure, little Betty in California can write well, but can she write as well as all the little Bettys in Vermont? That’s what a new standardized test aims to measure.
Forty-five states have adopted the Common Core State Standards. They establish uniform education standards for English and math. To this day, states must develop their own benchmarks for learning, so what a fifth grader in La Puente knows can vary greatly from what a fifth grader in Nashville might.
California adopted the plan two years ago. Now, State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson says the state is ready to launch the first of its three phases.
That means teaching teachers about the Common Core. The new standards are supposed to develop the skills students will need in a global economy that favors college graduates.
Although teacher opinions on the new standards span the spectrum, many worry that it’s just the standardized flavor of the month. In California, the state budget crisis has severely restricted the money available for staff training. On top of that, no textbooks teach instructors the new curriculum.
Schools will begin testing on the new standards during the 2014 academic year. Until then, California will test its students on standards the State Board of Education set in the late 1990s.