2012 Presidential Election, Big Government, politics

Problems With National Standards & Tests in Education

The size and scope of government has become a hotly debated issue within evangelicalism as some evangelicals have reacted against the Religious Right by swinging toward the Religious Left in recent years. As these (former?) evangelicals embrace “progressive” candidates, such as they did with Barack Obama in 2008, big government initiatives continue to accelerate.

Good Christians can certainly disagree over the proper role of the federal government but I believe one of the many areas in which our ever-expanding government has overstepped its bounds is in K-12 education. In particular, I am concerned about a growing effort to institute national curriculum standards and national testing. I have no expertise in the field of education but I am a concerned parent and citizen. I recommend the following resources as an introduction to some of the concerns many Americans have with national standards and tests in education.

Why One National Curriculum is Bad for America: A Critical Response to the Shanker Institute Manifesto and the U.S. Department of Education’s Initiative to Develop a National Curriculum and National Assessments Based on National Standards.

Exceprt: “The Shanker Manifesto does not make a convincing case for a national curriculum. It manifests serious shortcomings in its discussion of curricular alignment and coherence, the quality of Common Core’s national standards, course sequence and design, academic content, student mobility, sensitivity to pluralism, constitutionality and legality, transparency and accountability, diverse pedagogical needs, and the absence of consensus on all these questions. For these reasons, we the undersigned oppose the Shanker Manifesto’s call for a nationalized curriculum and the U.S. Department of Education’s initiative to develop a national curriculum and national tests based on Common Core’s standards.”

  • First, there is no constitutional or statutory basis for national standards, national assessments, or national curricula.
  • Second, there is no consistent evidence that a national curriculum leads to high academic achievement.
  • Third, the national standards on which the administration is planning to base a national curriculum are inadequate.
  • Fourth, there is no body of evidence for a “best” design for curriculum sequences in any subject.
  • Fifth, there is no evidence to justify a single high school curriculum for all students.

Click here for full text.


Federalism in Education Made Simple: “Learn how the federal government is involved in the education system, and how the government’s role in the public school impacts the effectiveness of educating the American children.”
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National Standards and Tests: An Unprecedented Federal Overreach: “For nearly five decades, Washington’s role in education has been growing at a tremendous pace, wresting educational authority away from states and local school districts. At the same time, educational achievement has remained flat. Now, the Obama Administration wants to double-down on this failed strategy and is pushing states to adopt national standards and tests to define and measure what every public school child in American should know.

An unprecedented federal overreach, the Common Core State Standards Initiative has been criticized for the quality of the content of standards, entanglement with federal incentives and a disregard for state educational authority. Join us as our special guests examine the problems and pitfalls that await if the push for national standards and tests is successful.”
Vodpod videos no longer available.


Washington’s Latest Education Overreach: National Standards for Schools: “President Obama, along with Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, have been promoting national standards in education. However, these policies would further remove parents and teachers from their children’s education.”
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3 thoughts on “Problems With National Standards & Tests in Education

  1. Sure Jeff. A person doesn’t even get past the 3rd paragraph in the Shanker Manifesto before hearing that it advocates “rich, common curriculum content.” Rich is a red-herring word here. The key is “common.”

    This means the same content for the whole country, which means uniformity. The equivalent in the RCC is the Nihil obstat and Imprimatur assigned to approved books.

    Think of the things that would be subject to national enforcement if there were “common content.” The same explanations for what happened in history, learned by everybody, for example. The same explanations of current events. The same explanations of human behavior.

    Local autonomy goes against the grain of a monolithic explanation for everything learned by everybody. A competing theory does not need national approval to get a hearing.

    Posted by larnewman | August 4, 2011, 9:12 pm
  2. Can you flesh that out a bit more? Thanks!

    Posted by Jeff Wright | August 4, 2011, 4:11 pm
  3. Isn’t there a “government telling us what to believe” wall that is safeguarded by local autonomy?

    Posted by larnewman | August 4, 2011, 4:08 pm

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