Educational standards in the United States, especially the often controversial Common Core State Standards, provides many interesting research paper topics.
Here are some ideas for Common Core standards, importance of standards, GED equivalency, and the politics of educational standards.
What are Common Core State Standards?
A good research paper topic is to describe the Common Core State Standards, a set of educational standards for kindergarten through high school that were adopted by 42 states and the District of Columbia. The aim is to ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to enter a two- or four-year college or to enter the workforce. The standards were developed by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers, as well as input from the public. The federal government was not involved in development of the standards, and the standards vary between states. Adoption of the standards by each state is voluntary.
One of the many controversial aspects of Common Core that you could research is how a student with GED high school equivalency doesn’t necessarily mean that he/she is ready for college. In 2014, the GED Testing Service lowered its passing score from 150 to 145 to better align to the Common Core State Standards. Consequently, the test became more difficult and more students failed it. “On the one hand it says something good about the country that we don’t shut the door for anyone,” said Chad Aldeman, associate partner at the nonprofit Bellwether Education Partners in Washington, in “In the U.S., a Growing Recognition: College Isn’t for Everyone,” by Lauren Camera posted in U.S. News and World Report February 1, 2016. Aldeman added, “But we’re not good at telling people they’re not good enough for something.” Also, compared to other countries, the U.S. doesn’t provide many good alternatives.
Purpose of educational standards
Why educational standards are created and how they are implemented would make a good term paper topic. The questions of the value of educational standards, their effectiveness, and their implementation were addressed in the article, “How and Why Standards Can Improve Student Achievement: A Conversation with Robert J. Marzano,” by Marge Scherer published in the September 2001 issue of Educational Leadership, the journal of the non-profit organization Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Marzano is Senior Fellow at the Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning Institute in Aurora, Colorado.
Marzano commented on the most compelling argument for educational standards: “Standards hold the greatest hope for significantly improving student achievement… Even though the process of identifying standards has been clumsy, it has started a conversation across the United States about what students should know in different subject areas.” To implement standards effectively, Marzano recommends: “Cut the number of standards and the content within standards dramatically,” in order to reduce the time needed for implementation.
Educational standards politicized
You could write your paper on how educational standards, like Common Core, have been politicized in the United States. The Education Next poll surveys teachers and the public on their opinions on educational policy. In “Common Core Brand Taints Opinion on Standards: 2016 Findings and 10-Year Trends from the EdNext Poll,” by Paul E. Peterson, Michael B. Henderson, Martin R. West, and Samuel Barrows in Education Next, Winter 2017, poll results reveal that in 2016, support for Common Core, school vouchers, and teacher tenure are down, but support for raising teacher salary and for their local public schools are up.
Political parties have weighed in on their support for various educational standards and practices. The Education Next survey found that in general, Democrats more than Republicans favor school vouchers targeted toward low-income families, universal vouchers, the Common Core, and say that teacher unions have a positive effect on schools. Republican support for vouchers and tuition tax credits has slipped over the years.
For more information, check out Questia’s library on Educational Standards.
Do you think educational standards are necessary or are a burden to schools? Share your thoughts in the comments.