Is this the End of Standards Based Education?

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Recently, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced his resignation effective the end of the year. Immediately, President Obama named John King, Jr. as his replacement, leaving many to speculate on what his tenure could mean for education.

Many consider the end Secretary Duncan’s term to be more than a simple changing of the guard; they are speculating it may be the end of a standards-based education era. From 1993-2015, the tenures of
Secretaries Riley, Paige, Spellings, and Duncan, we have seen the largest involvement of the Federal government in education.

This involvement began easily enough. With a deep-seated desire to close achievement gaps, measure progress, and build capacity in students, setting high standards seemed to be the answer. By the middle
of the 1990’s most states passed legislation to those ends; however, execution seemed harder than anyone anticipated which leads to where education stands today.

For the past year and a half, this end of Secretary Duncan’s tenure, the dominate conversation has revolved around how those standards look and how they are assessed. Many feel the standards are too narrow while others fear they do not cover appropriate levels. And, most argue that assessing the standards has led to too much testing time for students.

As soon-to-be Secretary John King, Jr. prepares to begin his tenure the speculation increased as to the future of education in America, as well as the future involvement of the Federal government. Will standards-based education continue to be the norm and drive the future? Will a new era of student-centered learning emerge as hinted by many? Or, will an entirely new theory of education reform begin?

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