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By GreatSchools Staff
In recent years, there has been an ongoing debate in education circles about the value of having a national set of standards that all schools throughout the country would use. Here are the arguments in a nutshell:
The drive to create state standards and tests was pushed in part by the passage of the No Child Left Behind federal law in 2002. The law requires each state to set standards for curriculum in reading, math and science. Students must be tested annually in reading, math and science in grades 3 through 8, and at least once in grades 10 through 12. All groups of students, including economically disadvantaged and special needs students, must show evidence of academic progress, otherwise the school gets penalized and parents have the right to choose another school or receive free tutoring.
Critics of the law say it did not go far enough because it allowed each state to set its own standards. This created a system where some states have tougher standards than others. States can make tests easier so that more students can meet proficiency standards. Critics argue that this is exactly what has happened in some cases.
Supporters of the law say that it has caused schools to pay significant attention to the lowest achieving students and to raising the bar for all students. Test scores, for the most part, are improving and students are learning.
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