Forty-eight states have signed on to support the development of common academic standards. But they may be supporting something that doesn't have much evidence of effectiveness in improving learning, according to a new paper from a think tank here in Washington. In a policy analysis released today, Neal McCluskey, the associate director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute, argues that the case for a set of standards shared by all states is empirically weak. In "Behind the Curtain: Assessing the Case for National Curriculum Standards," he argues that expanding educational choice is a more effective way ...


A task force concludes that the "national system of preparing physics teachers is "largely inefficient, mostly incoherent, and massively unprepared to deal with the current and future needs" of U.S. students.


A state senator from Utah is suggesting that his state save money by making the senior year of high school optional. Many states and districts have been searching for ways to save money during these lean financial times. One of the most frequently cited—though not widely embraced—suggestions is shortening the school calendar. But this is the first time I've heard of someone proposing to eliminate an entire year of school. Not that the senior year hasn't been the target of criticism for a long time. You can hardly spit without running into a high school senior who will...


A lot of people are talking about The New York Times story on how Texas revised its social studies standards. (You might remember that process got just a tad controversial recently.) Read what Eduwonk has to say about it (the blog provides lots of good links to other commentary as well). Former Gates Foundation education biggieTom Vander Ark shares thoughts (and a fun headline) as well over at VA/R Partners. A recent story in the Dallas Morning News reports on the board's decision. Check out our previous blog posts on Texas' revision here and here, and a story here. ...


Curriculum Matters co-author Erik Robelen will appear on the Kojo Nnamdi Show this coming Monday to discuss charter schools.


A new initiative called the Pi Society will award a first round of grants this spring for math fellowships worth $5,000 apiece.


Perhaps Harvard Business Review isn't high on your list of regular leisure reading. It isn't high on mine, either. But this is worth a look. It's an argument for the importance of feeling that you are making progress in your work. The authors studied "knowledge workers" of many stripes, and found that recognition, incentives, interpersonal support and clear goals are not as high on the motivation scale as that sense of making progress in your work. (Managers of these workers thought that recognition for good work would be the most important motivator, and making progress would be the least important. ...


Add Ohio to the list of states currently working to revamp Social Studies standards.


We've had so much snow here in Washington that we're all on snowverload. (Some are calling it snowverkill, but I like my own word, "snowverload," better. I welcome the grammarians to bring it on.) So perhaps it's all the white stuff getting to me. But I see an odd connection in three stories of interest today to all you curriculum wonks. One the one hand, we hear that huge portions of students in Colorado need remediation to keep their heads above water in college. (The fact that kids need remediation isn't news, of course. But just check out the proportions ...


The Kentucky board of education voted unanimously this morning to adopt the common standards. It's the first state to do so. And it did so even before the first public draft of the K-12 standards has been issued. (Nonpublic drafts have been circulating among state officials for review.) The original idea, officials there tell me, was to hold the adoption vote after the standards were finalized. Completion was originally expected in December, so Kentucky officials scheduled adoption for the board's Feb. 10 meeting. But the timeline for finalizing the K-12 standards stretched. They're now expected to go up for public ...


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