California to decide adoption of national school standards

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After a year-long effort, the National Governor’s Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers today released a set of recommended standards for math and English high school instruction. Now it's up to California and other states to decide whether to adopt the recommended benchmarks.

For about a year, the groups asked teachers, administrators, and academics nationwide about what math and English skills students need for success after high school. The standards they crafted make broad recommendations about the literary works students should master along with the speaking and vocabulary skills they’ll need.

The recommendations also suggest preparation for eighth-grade algebra and math comprehension they’ll need in the workplace and at home.

In a written statement, California Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell said the state should adopt the recommended standards.

“These standards unveiled this morning in their finalized version will help us improve instruction and student performance by making more focused and explicit the knowledge and skills students need to know as they move up the grades.

This will better prepare students for successful mastery of more complex and advanced concepts and applications required for success in high school and later in college and careers," he said.

California educators are still studying how the recommended standards size up to this state’s already rigorous benchmarks.

Some observers say classroom lessons and tests should be the focus of improvement. That’s where public schools, they say, fail to offer most California students the necessary problem solving and analytical skills in English and math. Others worry that putting new standards in place will require new textbooks and teacher training that the state can’t afford now.

Governor Schwarzenegger has begun appointing a committee to recommend within a month or so what the state should do. Final approval would come from the State Board of Education.