Education officials in 48 states are developing a set of common standards for what American students should learn during each year of their public education. The Campaign for High School Equity (CHSE), a coalition of civil rights and education organizations that includes the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), is pushing to ensure that the common standards address the needs of communities of color and the nation’s achievement gap.
Currently, each state sets its own standards, which means that students living in states with high standards are more likely to be prepared for college and work than students living in states with low standards.
“It is critical that the new standards are not only higher to raise the bar across the board, but simpler and clearer so that they can be better implemented,” said David Goldberg, LCCR senior counsel. “Good implementation means access to high-quality, well-aligned curricula and assessments for all students, regardless of what state, city, school district, or neighborhood they live in.”
African-American, Latino, and Native American high school students have a 60 percent chance of graduating from high school on time with a regular diploma, according to the Alliance for Excellent Education. Common standards have the potential to narrow the achievement gap and help students of color by giving all students the chance to learn the same critical skills.
In order for the new standards to be effective, however, they must be developed and implemented with minority communities in mind. They must be culturally relevant, flexible to the needs of English language learners, and account for the sovereignty of Native American communities.
States and districts must also ensure that the curricula and tests are designed to make sure every student can meet the new standards. If they are not held accountable for meeting the unique needs of students of color, then the achievement gap will continue to widen.