Fortunately, there is already a process under way that could, if properly nurtured, take charge of writing common national standards. The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) have been working with a nonprofit called Achieve Inc. In 2001, Achieve helped launch the American Diploma Project, which establishes curriculum standards that align with what a graduate will need to succeed in college, the military or a career. Gene Wilhoit, the executive director of CCSSO, hopes to kick this effort up a notch at a special meeting in Chicago on April 17 by announcing an agreement among 25 states to support an aggressive schedule to devise internationally benchmarked math and English standards for all grade levels. "I see standards as the essential foundation for all education reforms," he says. These standards could build on the existing NAEP tests, which currently are administered every few years to a representative sample of students around the country in grades 4, 8 and 12. This type of approach was endorsed by the Commission on No Child Left Behind, a bipartisan group led by former governors Tommy Thompson and Roy Barnes that was run by the Aspen Institute, where I work.
The unanswered question: Is NJ one of those 25 states - only the Commissioner knows and she remains silent on the issue.