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Higher Standards: Yielding a Higher Return on Our Investment

• Dave Myslinski

For more than a decade, states have had academic standards, common across each state’s public schools. For example, all public schools in North Carolina fall under the same state academic standards. And for years, this has held true. Every child in North Carolina—and every child in every other state—is taught to certain academic standards.

Texas, a non-Common Core adopter, has statewide academic standards, the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, and has maintained these for years. A 4th grader in Lubbock learns to the same standards as a 4th grader in Corpus Christi.

So why shouldn’t a student in Houston learn to the same standards as a student in New Orleans?

Forty-six states agreed and adopted common academic standards for mathematics and English. These common standards were developed from the outset with the intent of being aligned to what is needed beyond K-12 education. When properly implemented, these standards will help ensure students who graduate high school are ready to face the challenges of being a productive American.

These stronger standards—the Common Core State Standards—set expectations. They define what students should learn at each grade level.

It is up to the district, and ultimately, the individual teacher in each class to develop and implement the curriculum. That relationship between the teacher and each student remains and is where the individualized instruction is crucial.

Every child is unique with his or her own learning style. Students vary from school to school, from class to class, and even within each class. It’s important to recognize that freedom to teach classes differently already exists within the current framework of state standards. Adopting new state standards doesn’t change that.  Strong state standards combined with an effective teacher will ensure students have the customized education experience they deserve, and we as taxpayers expect.

Wrongly tying these new, higher state-led standards to the Obama Administration undermines governors, education leaders and other elected state officials and the work they have so diligently advanced.

State leaders have made the right choice in expecting more of our schools and raising the bar for students. It’s our job as citizens to ensure the education system we pay for is meeting our expectations and yielding a return on our investment. We should applaud those working to advance education for all students, and push back against those who are satisfied with mediocrity and the status quo.

About the author

Dave Myslinski

Dave Myslinski serves as a Communications Specialist for the Foundation for Excellence in Education, and was the State Policy Director for Digital Learning Now, focusing on digital education policies across all 50 states. Prior to joining the Foundation, he served as the Education Task Force Director at the American Legislative Exchange Council, where he focused on digital learning, K-12 education reform, and higher education policies on the state level. He is a coauthor of the Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress and Reform for ALEC, and currently serves on its Education Task Force Executive Committee and is a Vice-Chair of the Digital Learning Subcommittee. Dave has previously worked on state policies relating to health care and telecommunications. He is a graduate of Rutgers University. Contact Dave at