New US education standards proposed

English, math skills detailed

By Nick Anderson
Washington Post / September 22, 2009

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WASHINGTON - An advisory panel unveiled a proposal yesterday that details the math and English skills every student ought to have by the end of high school, the first step toward what advocates hope will become common standards that help the United States regain world academic leadership.

In math, for example, students would be able to solve systems of equations; find and interpret rates of change; and adapt probability models to solve real-world problems.

In English language arts, they would be able to analyze how specific word choices shape the meaning and tone of a text; develop a style and tone of writing appropriate to a task, purpose and audience; and respond constructively to advance a discussion and build on the input of others.

The proposal, posted at, was drafted over the summer by a group that included specialists affiliated with organizations that oversee the SAT and ACT college admissions tests, as well as Achieve Inc., a nonprofit standards advocacy group based in Washington.

The panel was convened by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, which this year enlisted 48 states and the District of Columbia in an effort dubbed the Common Core Standards Initiative. The two holdouts are Texas and Alaska.

The draft, according to Dane Linn, director of the education division of the NGA Center for Best Practices, was circulated to a wider group of specialists and then vetted by representatives from six states before it was made public. Those states, Linn said, were California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, and Minnesota.

The group is seeking public comment on the proposal over the next month.