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What's at Stake in the K-12 Standards Wars

A Primer for Educational Policy Makers

Sandra Stotsky

The «standards wars» are another manifestation of the «culture wars.» Few educational policy makers understand the many disciplinary, pedagogical, and curricular issues occuring at the heart of the conflicts as states develop or revise their K-12 standards and standards-based assessments in the major subjects. The issues differ from subject to subject. This collection of essays addresses the issues that have arisen in the development and implementation of national and state standards in science, mathematics, history, economics, and the English language arts from the perspective of scholars in those disciplines. These scholars are writing not for other scholars in their field but for those who help shape K-12 educational policy legislators, members of boards of education, and those who teach courses in government or education policy making. The purpose of this collection is to clarify what is at stake in the standards wars and in standards-based systemic reform.
Contents: Sandra Stotsky: Preface – Hung-Hsi Wu: The 1997 Mathematics Standards War in California – Ralph A. Raimi: Judging State Standards for K-12 Mathematics Education – Paul Clopton/Wayne Bishop/David Klein: Standards-Based Mathematics Assessments: Appearances May Be Deceiving – Stan Metzenberg: National Science Standards: Where is the Evidence Supporting Them? – Alan Cromer: The Science Standards Wars: What Is the Basis for Scientific Inquiry? – Paul R. Gross/Sandra Stotsky: How Children Learn Science: Do We Now Know? – Sheldon M. Stern: Why the Battle over History Standards? – Robert M. Costrell: Discipline-Based Economics Standards: Opportunity and Obstacles – Thomas Carnicelli: The English Language Arts in American Schools: Problems and Proposals – Sandra Stotsky: The State of Literary Study in National and State English Language Arts Standards: Why It Matters and What Can Be Done about It – Jeanne J. Smoot: Toward Improved English Language Arts Standards for K-12: What a College Professor Wishes Her Students Had Read – Mary Campbell Gallagher: Lessons from the Sputnik-Era Curriculum Reform Movement: The Institutions We Need for Educational Reform – Michael McKeown/David Klein/Chris Patterson: The National Science Foundation Systemic Initiatives: How a Small Amount of Federal Money Promotes III-Designed Mathematics and Science Programs in K-12 and Undermines Local Control of Education.