Show Less
Restricted access

A Policy History of Standards-Based Education in America


Boyce Brown

A Policy History of Standards-Based Education in America is a narrative history of the development of standards-based education in the United States over the last several decades, from the perspective of anarchist cultural studies. There have been other books on the evolution of federal education policy, but few have struck the right balance between describing how it actually happened while still providing a theoretical framework, and none have kept the focus specifically on standards-based education. These related books have also rightly noted the great diversity of players, factions, interest groups, and organizations that helped move federal education policy from «equity», to «excellence», to «accountability» over the last four decades. This book goes on to make the original claim (using a rigorous analysis of the historical record) that big business was the primary empirical driver behind standards-based education and «global economic competitiveness» was the primary ideological driver. Finally, the book concludes by interrogating the implicit claims embedded within global competitiveness ideology; that the present international economy will continue as it has indefinitely, which is mathematically impossible. Unless things change quickly, this planet is heading toward economic, environmental, and geostrategic shocks of the very first order of magnitude. An eco-pedagogy for anarchist bioregions might be part of the solution.
The leading markets for this book will be major public and Division 1 research university libraries and university courses in education policy, education law, education history, political science, and public policy.
Show Summary Details
Restricted access

Chapter 1. Introduction

← viii | 1 →·1·


I would contend that the three main stages of the American economy have created three main different types of educational policy: 1) common schools of the agrarian period (from the colonial period to the late 19th century), 2) compulsory mass schooling and the rise of graduate schools of education during industrialization (from the late 19th century to the late 20th century), and 3) the family of reform models first called “systematic reform” and “school restructuring” in the 1980s and later consolidated under the broad rubric of “accountability” during the post-industrial phase over the last few decades (Emery, 2002).

Standards-based education is a central part of this complex of closely related reform ideas generally referred to as accountability. Building on Apple (2006) these include 1) raising the standards (first in the everyday sense of the term, later as explicit written guidelines in each subject matter and grade or grade spans), 2) testing frequently, and 3) raising the stakes in terms of rewards or sanctions for students, teachers, principals, schools, districts, and states based largely on those test results.

Since the seminal 1983 A Nation at Risk study marked the beginning of a major shift in the values debate in educational policy away from equity and equality towards efficiency and excellence, numerous educational reform ← 1 | 2 →concepts have come and gone. In this book, I hope to demonstrate that the one that may have had the biggest impact over the longest period since then has been standards-based education....

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.