Last week Connecticut joined the growing number of states to adopt the new set of common academic standards. According to Education Week magazine, “As of July 9, twenty-three states decided to replace their mathematics and English/language arts standards with the common set. Another flurry of adoptions is expected by Aug. 2, since the $4 billion federal Race to the Top contest gives more points to states that meet that deadline.” The K-12 math and language arts standards were developed in collaboration with content experts, state boards of education, teachers, administrators, and parents. The first draft appeared in March, and the final draft was released on July 9. However, some state education department opted out of the contest, as they expressed concern that the standards are still in the preliminary form. They expressed the need to perform due diligence before adoption. In fact, a number of core committee members refused to sign the final document. R. James Milgram told Education Week. “. . . they do not match up well with international expectations, and they are not quite as good as the best of the state standards, in California, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Indiana.”
Among the states that have already adopted the common standards, the move has
touched off little controversy. New Jersey was an exception. In the Garden State,
some people concerned about math education objected, arguing that the math standards were not as rigorous as the state’s current expectations.
Joseph G. Rosenstein, a math professor at Rutgers University in Piscataway who
helped shape New Jersey’s math standards in 1996 and 2002, said he feels the state board didn’t sufficiently consider his concerns, and those of other experts, before
voting June 16 to adopt the new standards.
The goal of the common standards is to equalize the uneven academic expectations that currently exist in these core areas in different states. One reason that the standards have received little opposition now is that they are still somewhat abstract. Controversy may arise once exams for these standards are formulated. Our students need to be challenged. We await the results.