Michael W. Kirst. 1999. "A Babel of Standards: Students face a confusing array of tests and assessments."

Education standards have swept across the U.S., engulfing almost every state. Forty-six states have created K-12 academic content standards in most academic subjects, and all but Iowa and Nebraska have statewide K-12 student achievement tests.

At the state level, there is progress toward focusing on, and clarifying: 1) what students must be able to know and to do in the K-12 grades, and 2) how to align standards, assessments, textbook selection, and accountability measures at the K-12 level. A gaping hole in this reform strategy, however, is the lack of coherence in content and assessment standards between higher education institutions and systems and K-12 systems.

In this article, the author argues that unless this standards gap is closed and K-16 policies aligned, students and secondary schools will continue to receive a confusing array of signals and will not be able to prepare adequately for higher education. The current scene is a Babel of standards, he suggests, rather than a coherent strategy.

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