The debate over a common, national curriculum with corresponding assessments continues. A group led by critics of the new common academic standards recently issued a manifesto arguing against development of common academic standards. The document, Closing the Door on Innovation: Why One National Curriculum is Bad for America, was signed by more than 100 leaders in education, business, and politics. Largely in response to a Call for Common Content issued in March by the Albert Shanker Institute, the paper calls itself a “counter-manifesto” to the push by the U.S. Department of Education’s investment in developing assessments for common standards.
The document is just the latest entry into the controversy about common standards and assessments. Opponents of the shared curriculum and tests argue that the movement will stifle innovation, threaten local and state control of education decisions, and standardize learning for students with diverse needs. They say there is no evidence that it would lead to higher student achievement, nor that there is one “best” approach to curriculum for all students.
Additionally, and possibly more important to many educators, is the plan to develop curricular resources such as model units. They argue that such supports lead to centralized control of education at the federal level and erode the professional decisions of teachers.
The Shanker Institute and other assessment consortia that advocate for a common curriculum have said that any curricular materials should be voluntary. They also say that they do not recommend one curriculum for all students, but multiple “curricular guides,” based on the common standards, that would allow teachers the freedom to teach the standards as they wish.
Another post on this blog highlights the debate: How Specific Should the National Curriculum Be? Some additional articles include: