To Dream The Impossible Dream Comments.

August 31, 2006 By: richard.ginn Category: Uncategorized

I love this Thomas B. Fordham Foundation report and what they attempted to do. This report came up with four approaches to national standards and tests for the USA school system after getting responses from some experts. They are national set standard junkies just like I am.

The Foundation sent out twelve questions and all of them are good questions. Questions even I have gone through when up with my idea to solve the educational system.

Questions asked included:

Who creates the standard??
Will the Federal role increase???
Should we have one accounting system for k-12 schools???
What gets tested at what grade level???
Should the SAT/ACT exam go away???

Responses from the twelve questions went into one of four national set standards ideas. “The whole enchilada” idea where the federal government sets, creates, and enforces a national set standard.

The “if you build it, they will come” idea where the federal government creates a national set standard with some bonuses to states that sign on to the idea, but no state is forced into the plan.

The “let’s all hold hands” idea where the states would be encouraged to join forces to come up with one set standard.

The “sunshine and shame” model will only make standardized tests more transparent and easier to compare with the NAEP exams.

They showed how each model might work in the real world and tested to see if it would end the “race to the bottom”, provide a strong standard, expand Washington’s role in the educational system and be politically feasible. They say ending the race to the bottom means that standards for students will not go down and be suited for the 21st century.

Out of the four models, I liked only one and kind of liked a second one.

The only model I liked was “the whole enchilada” model. The foundation says this idea is going to end the race to the bottom and expand the federal role. They said it might result in a strong standard, but it will not be politically feasible. A third party of education experts is going to have to have to come up with the standard that the Secretary of Education is going to have to enforce though and that same third party is going to have make any changes as well. What could happen is the third party creates a crappy standard which would be a tragedy. I think it is more politically feasible than the foundation thinks it is and if you go with my plan you sure will have the high standard for all students.

I kind of liked the “if you build it, they will come” model. The foundation says this will create a high standard, but will probably end the race to the bottom. Giving states money to join in on a national standard is a good idea, but this still uses a third party to create a standard which could wind up being a crappy one. If only a few states join it could mean the other states that do not join might wind up lowering standards which is a no no. It could expand the role of the federal government depending on how much they want to get involved in this idea. I think this idea is highly feasible, but I like the first model more.

The “let’s all hold hands” model is bad. It does not expand the role of the federal government because this idea is only goes to the state-level only. Unless the states are really committed to all come together and quickly move to one set standard this idea is never going to work and even they could come up with a crappy standard. At this point of time the states are moving in the right direction on standards, but imo they are moving too slow for me. I think the idea is highly feasible though.

The “sunshine and shame” model is even worse. The model really only changes test standards. The foundation says that maybe it will end the race to the bottom. I say it will not do a thing to end the race to the bottom. Something is going to have to be done though with the sizable difference between federal and state testing scores though and that is this model will be best at doing.

In conclusion “the whole enchilada” model is the way to go. It will be the toughest thought to get passed though even though I think it is more politically feasible then the foundation. National set standards are only going to improve the educational system and our workforce.

To comment on my commentary:


Finn , J r., Chester E., Liam Julian, Michael J. Petrilli, etc…”To Dream the Impossible Dream Four Approaches to National Standards and Tests for America’s Schools” Thomas B. Fordham Foundation (2006) n. pag. Online. Internet. August 27, 2006