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Momentum For Common Standards On Education

by Scott Bittle

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

The drive for common core education standards is gaining steam, with 26 states and the District of Columbia already signed up. Public Agenda's research has found Americans like the idea of standards but low standards are not their most pressing concern about schools.

More states are expected to sign up for the standards in English and math, which are a key part of the Obama administration's "race to the top" program and also have strong backing from the nation's governors and chief school officers. But the idea still causes intense debate among educators and others.

In our research, Public Agenda has consistently found that the public supports the idea of standards, and has for some time. In our most recent look at this, our "Are We Beginning to See the Light?" survey on math and science education, strong majorities of both parents and the public said establishing a national curriculum would help improve math education (about half of both groups) said it would help "a lot."

It's also important to note that curriculum and standards are not what's bothering parents and the public most about schools. When participants in our math and science education survey were asked about the most pressing problem facing local high schools, some 63 percent of parents and 56 percent of the public cited "social problems and kids who misbehave." Only about three in 10 cited "low academic standards and outdated curricula."

National standards may well be a major step forward for improving American schools but the public sees safe and orderly schools as a pressing concern, and that deserves to be addressed as well.

Editor's note: This post has been edited to correct the number of states that have adopted the common core standards; as of July 23, the count is 26 states and the District of Columbia.


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