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What's at Stake in the K-12 Standards Wars: A Primer for Educational Policy Makers [Paperback]

Sandra Stotsky

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Book Description

March 26, 2002 0820444901 978-0820444901 3
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.

Editorial Reviews


«In discussions of K-12 standards and assessments, we hear a great deal from the education establishment, but very little from academic scholars, especially in mathematics and the sciences. It is impossible to understand exactly what the educational issues are and what we should be trying to do in standards-based reform if we do not also hear from the experts in the academic disciplines our students must study. This collections of essays by nationally known scholars and scientists constitutes the first substantial effort to correct this situation; every essay is food for thought for educational policy makers.» (Eugene Hickok, Secretary of Education, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania)
«This is the most deeply researched and powerfully reasoned book yet written on K-12 educational standards in math, science, history, and language arts. It is a superb work. I am dazzled by the learning and patriotism of the teachers, scientists, and scholars who have probed so deeply into current state and national standards, carefully assessing both their quality and the ‘research’ used to justify them. This is must reading for anyone in a position to affect educational policy.» (E.D. Hirsch, Jr., Linden Kent Memorial Professor of English, University Professor of Education and Humanities, University of Virginia)
«Standards-based school reform frequently inhabits a world right out of Alice in Wonderland - one in which standards aren’t really standards and reform contributes absolutely nothing to the improvement of schools. Sandra Stotsky has assembled a set of papers to cut through the false claims and distortions. This is an indispensable volume.» (Tom Loveless, Brookings Institution)
«‘Standards Wars’ is a valuable guide to the big battles about academic standards that erupted in the 1990s. The contributors analyze the bitter debates that accompanied efforts to set standards at the national and state levels and shed light and reason on important issues that should concern parents, teachers, and policy makers.» (Diane Ravitch, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution; Research Professor, New York University)
«In the stormy seas of K-12 academic standards, this splendid collection provides needed navigational assistance. It responds to a bizarre shortcoming of many state and national standard-setting efforts: the absence of serious scholars deeply grounded in the subjects for which standards are being set. Dr. Stotsky has recruited many of the ablest thinkers in the core academic fields and they have addressed themselves lucidly and passionately to the key issues in their fields. All who believe that sound content is the wellspring of good standards will benefit from immersion in these pages.» (Chester E. Finn, Jr., President, Thomas B. Fordham Foundation; former Assistant U.S. Secretary of Education)

About the Author

The Editor: Sandra Stotsky is Research Associate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She received her Ed.D. in Reading from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. In addition to numerous articles in professional journals and a monograph on state standards in the English language arts and reading, she wrote Losing Our Language: How Multicultural Classroom Instruction Is Undermining Our Children’s Ability to Read, Write, and Reason and edited The Immigrant Experience, a series of library reference books.

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