One way out of this disastrous state of affairs is to create national standards. This is, of course, fraught with danger as past experiences show, e.g. the experience with the Gary B. Nash history "standards". Such a project would attract the usual suspects. But I think the risk has to be taken. The advocates of sound, rigorous standards must organize and mobilize and be in a position to counter the inevitable attempt to dilute the standards and to institute educational lunacy.
It is therefore gratifying to read that Diane Ravitch is calling precisely for such standards. [Diane Ravitch's article was first published in the NYT but the article will soon disappear into the paid archives.]
The release last month of test results by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which is part of the Department of Education, vividly demonstrated why varying state standards and tests are inadequate. Almost all states report that, based on their own tests, incredibly large proportions of their students meet high standards. Yet the scores on the federal test (which was given to a representative sample of fourth and eighth graders) were far lower. Basically, the states have embraced low standards and grade inflation.