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Educational Reform on Curriculum Standards

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Submitted By earthtone78
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Running head: Educational Reform Paper

Standards as Vehicle for Educational Reform
University of Phoenix
Cur 562/Standards-Based Curriculum and Instruction
Dr. Suranna
January 15, 2009

Standards as a Vehicle for Educational Reform Standards have been one of the most controversial topics in the field of education. Therefore, it has captured the concerns of the public to take the necessary action through a national movement that could help improve educational outcomes for all students. The movement has brought about major attention to stakeholders in the public arena, which include educators, administrators, parents, community leaders/members, businesses, and lawmakers. According to Marzano and Kendall (1996) many educators believe that the national publication of A Nation at Risk ( National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983) has somewhat initiated a standards based reform movement. This publication has been one of the first documents to mandate the needs for significant improvement in public schools. In conjunction with such efforts came national and state level reform initiatives have help create standards of performance in the various subject areas. These standards later were used to develop assessments that would measure the extent in which the standards are to be mastered. Setting such rigorous academic standards, measuring students’ progress against these standards, and holding students and educators accountable for meeting them are the essential components of the standards-based reform movement. The academic standards describe what students should know and be able to do in the core academic subjects for each grade level. Content standards describe the basic knowledge that all students should know. The performance standard component describes the level at which students are performing at, which can be below grade level, at or on grade level, and above grade or proficient level. There has been a very strong support of the public as it relates to the standards. According to a public opinion poll by the Business roundtable, found that the effort to adopt standards is just a beginning step of the reform movement. A survey that was given by Education week, found that 39% of educators believe that raising standards for what students should learn each year is definitely a move to consider, whereas 48% believe that making this move is somewhat satisfactory. Most of the states have either adopted some form of a reform based system. These states have worked considerably hard in putting these academic standards into place. As of 2001, all states except Iowa have some academic standards and other states have established standards in all subject areas. Even though states are making some progress in setting these academic standards, challenges are present. Because of this clarity and quality of standards have become major concerns. One of the concerns about these standards seems to be are students truly aware of what is expected of them and how well are they being prepared for it. Another concern may be are the standards being taught at a quality level by quality educators who are able to prepare these students for assessments. In today’s public schools standards are being seen throughout tests and the results which are holding schools accountable, can be seen as a way of lowering the standards. Unless standards are realistic and attainable, educators, students, and parents may not take standards seriously. While there continues to be a high support in standards, there still seems to be a concern with students’ performance on tests according to state criteria. A key concern is how well aligned tests are with the standards, which are designed to measure one’s understanding of the standards. Many tests are not remotely designed to match any one state’s standards. Some observers have found that curriculum alignment tends to narrow the focus of academic programs and to reinforce traditional methods of direct instruction, particularly in urban school districts (Firestone, Camilli, Yurecko, Monfils, & Mayrowetz, 2000). As these standards are being aligned with the tests some issues are carefully observed. Some of the observations have been the time constraints that may be involved in the implementation of changes to the curriculum and classroom practices, leading to little or no time to teach the standards thoroughly within a given school year. A most common observation or complaint made by teachers is that standards serves as the sole purpose of teaching strictly to a test and not skills or concepts that are applicable to the real-world, which can ultimately take away from students’ learning experience and creativity. When standards are in its proper place, better training and professional development for teachers are being provided, and revised and relevant curriculum is strategically planned, then perhaps students can make some progress as well as meet their expectations.

Firestone, W., Camilli, G., Yurecko, M., Monfils, L., & Mayrowetz, D. (2000). State standards, socio-fiscal context and opportunity to learn in New Jersey. Educational Policy Analysis Archives, 8(35). On-line journal available at
Marzano, R. and Kendall, J. The Fall and Rise of Standards-Based Education (Alexandria, Virginia: National Association of State Boards of Education, 1996).

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