White House Jobs Council: States should adopt common standards in science as well as math and English language arts

The White House Jobs Council is a consortium of corporations that advocates for strategies they say will expand the pool of high-paying jobs in the US.  In their 2011 Year-End Report was a lengthy section on education from preschool to postsecondary.  A section on standards was included:

Most of our major industrial competitors have comprehensive, consistent standards in education. Research indicates that such standards can account for up to 26% of the variance in student achievement across countries.  Standards in the United States, by contrast, have historically been developed individually by each state, leaving expectations for student learning dependent on where children happen to live. The Council believes that while curricula are rightly implemented by each state, they should be informed by common core standards.

In recent years, states have charted a path toward high common standards, spurred on by a growing coalition of stakeholders.  The National Governors Association has partnered with other stakeholders to develop the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in English language arts and in mathematics and related assessments; the CCSS have been adopted by 46 states. The CCSS represent a big step forward toward internationally benchmarked standards that are focused, rigorous and coherent across grades and state lines.

However, assessments aligned to the standards will not be fully rolled out until the 2014–15 school year, and states will likely require time to incorporate those assessments into data systems and instruction. Meanwhile, our industrial competitors often have standards that cover science, history and foreign languages. So, while the Council has nothing but praise and respect for those who’ve moved the nation this far on standards, we do not believe we should wait until 2020 to have fully implemented standards in just two subjects. The Council believes that states should accelerate the rollout of the standards that exist and speed the development and implementation of standards in additional subjects such as science that are essential for U.S. competitiveness.

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