Issues Library—Federal Education Policy
What are National Standards?
In education, a national standard can mean multiple things. In some instances, it may mean mandatory teacher qualifications to maintain national uniformity among all teachers, whether of public, private, or homeschools. In other cases, it can mean nationally standardized test batteries that are supposed to serve as uniform measurements of student achievement. Most commonly in the past few years, the term “national standards” refers to a specific set of knowledge and skills that has been identified as essential for a K–12 education to include.
Are National Standards Currently in Place?
No federally mandated national standards are currently in place. In the early days of the homeschooling movement, HSLDA fought many battles to protect homeschool teachers from mandatory qualification tests and requirements, and has worked with individual states to give homeschoolers more flexibility in assessment options. HSLDA also worked with Congress to craft language for the 2001 No Child Left Behind (NCLB) reauthorization that prohibits nationally standardized curriculum, especially as applied to homeschoolers. NCLB has been up for reauthorization since 2007, however, which means that the provisions of the act could change.
The biggest push for national standards in recent years has come from the National Governors Association (NGA), which began crafting nationalized curricula standards in summer 2009, and recently released the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Although not a federal agency, the NGA holds considerable weight in the 50 states, and so far, has persuaded more than 40 states to formally adopt the Common Core State Standards. Advocates of a nationally standardized curriculum cite America’s need for economic success as justification, and claim that uniformity in curriculum will solve the failures of NCLB.1 Currently, the National Governors Association has only advocated that its standards apply to public schools.
What is HSLDA’s Position on National Standards?
HSLDA carefully monitors congressional legislation and other initiatives for possible threats to homeschool freedom. Homeschooling's distinctive success lies in homeschooling parents’ freedom to craft individualized plans to fit each of their students, and to delve into differing curricula options than do the public schools. Any attempt to force standardization on homeschool parents or their children should be considered a threat to parental rights.
1. “National Governors Association and State Education Chiefs Launch Common State Academic Standards,” Common Core State Standards Initiative, June 2, 2010, http://www.corestandards.org/articles/8-national-governors-association-and-state-education-chiefs-launch-common-state-academic-standards; Mary Bruce, “States Unveil ‘Common Core State Standards’ for Public Schools,” ABC News, June 2, 2010, http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/national-school-standards-states-recommended/story?id=10809243.