National Standards Quandary

National Standards QuandaryThe trend seems to be setting national standards for education rather than teaching those skills to all K-12 students regardless of each student’s individual strengths and weaknesses. This is the mass approach our nation has taken for public education ever since we became an industrialized nation. Unfortunately the world has changed dramatically over the past 100 years while our education system has remained stagnant.

There has been increased discussion about development of differentiated classrooms, but its application is not required and teaching to national standards may actually inhibit teachers for such development.

In a class of 25 students there are 25 different strengths, weaknesses and needs yet traditional education asked that we give all of these individuals the exact same education with the goal that they will all graduate with minimal basic skills in a variety of academic areas, most of which students will never access or use after high school.

Wouldn’t it make more sense for education to assess each student’s abilities through interest, aptitude, intelligence and academic assessments rather than design an academic plan based on the needs specific to that student? Customizing education is not difficult and it is actually being employed in one segment of education, special education.

Before a student can be given an exceptional label they must go through a thorough functional behavior assessment. Once labeled an individualized educational plan must be designed. All exceptional students over the age of 14 also need a specific transition plan for leaving public education with the goal being to best prepare them for the adult world.

So why is it that only the exceptional students have individualized education plans? Wouldn’t it make more sense to complete functional behavioral assessments with all students that included transition planning for high school students? If we as a nation are truly looking to maximize the education of all K-12 students in America maybe it’s time to look beyond antiquated industrialized mass education and setting of national standards and begin looking at the development of an educational system that meets the individual needs of all students.