Lessons from High-Performing Countries

Lessons from High-Performing Countries
Secretary Duncan’s Remarks at National Center on Education and the Economy National Symposium
MAY 24, 2011

The first is the state-led design and adoption of higher, internationally benchmarked academic standards—and the development of a new generation of assessments that will test higher-order thinking skills, much like the high-quality assessments used overseas.

The states’ development and adoption of the Common Core Standards is a profound shift in American education that almost most none of the education experts thought possible just two years ago. For the first time, states have set a higher, shared standard for success that shows whether students are college and career-ready.

Our team clearly understands that better standards and assessments, while vital, do not guarantee high-quality instruction. So in our fiscal 2012 budget, we have requested $836 million in funding to support states and districts to build high-quality instruction systems around the new standards and in all content areas—including literacy, arts, foreign languages, and the STEM disciplines.

Comments about the remarks:

State-led is frequently used in these remarks.  Did the state really lead this effort or where the states led in this effort?

Statements and claims are commonly made that the CCSS are internationally benchmarked. This is a carry over from a promise that was made before the standards were written. The National Governors Association (NGA), the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) made this promise and it is often repeated as if true. The standards are not and were never internationally benchmarked. The CCSSI did not deliver on this promise and now says the standards “are informed by other top performing countries” (8). Maybe the CCSS will be internationally benchmarked in the future, but at present they are not internationally benchmarked. (From A Top Ten List of Unreasonable Reasons to Adopt The Common Core State Standards)