Date: August 5, 2003
Subject: The hard part

Now the hard part begins. Our draft standards have been posted on the Academic Standards Committee web site, and they need work, on style as well as content. We knew that they would, and we have already rolled up our sleeves and begun our rewrites. Notably we need to evaluate each standard and benchmark against the legislative mandate that they be:
  • Clear
  • Concise
  • Objective
  • Measurable
  • Grade-level appropriate
In addition, they must measure academic knowledge and skills, not attitudes, values, and beliefs.

I have asked for a written version of Commissioner Yecke's opening remarks from last Thursday. The press did not report the Commissioner's direction to us to "look to the greatness of America," or the Public Agenda parent survey. Read about both at my home page.

I posted a copy of the Profile of Learning High Standards for grade 9-12 on our Academic Standards Committee web site, for comparison purposes. Our rough standards are headed toward a more rigorous, knowledge-based standard. It's a matter of emphasis, what is included, and what is left out. For example, here is the "meat," slim pickings at that, of the Profile's social studies standards:

Standard: Themes of United States History
Grades: High Grades 9-12

A student shall:

demonstrate understanding of the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and themes related to key events, concepts, and people in the historical development of the United States, including the convergence of people, colonization, settlement, and the American Revolution; expansion, the Civil War, and the Reconstruction; tribal sovereignty and the relationship between American Indian tribal governments and federal and state government; industrialization, the emergence of modern America, and the Great Depression; World War II; and postwar United States to the present; and illustrate the influence of diverse ideas or beliefs on a theme or an event in the historical development of the United States.

Standard: United States Citizenship
Grades: High Grades 9-12

A student shall demonstrate understanding of the foundations, rights, and responsibilities of United States citizenship including how the United States government, as established by the Constitution, embodies the principles and ideals of a democratic republic; the rights and responsibilities of United States citizens, noncitizens, and dual citizens; and the formal and informal structures within which interest groups exercise power, by:

* examining the foundational documents, including the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights relating to citizen rights and responsibilities;

* examining persisting issues involving rights, roles, and status of individuals in relation to the general welfare of society;

* analyzing how citizens can affect public policy; and

* observing, analyzing, and interacting with an actual or simulated governmental process.

The remaining four standards, without detail:

Standard: Diverse Perspectives

Standard: Human Geography

Standard: Institutions and Traditions in Society

Standard: Community Interaction

I will leave it up to you, dear readers, to compare and contrast the Profile of Learning high standards for grade 9-12 social studies with our new standards once we get to the public comment period next month. I will also post excerpts of past critiques of the Profile's social studies standards. I won't be sharing the work-in-progress of the committees, but I will update you on our progress at least weekly this month.