California academics may be tops, but officials say it’s time for a change

Ben Trefny:

California’s public school system has finally found itself at the top of a list. According to a new report, its academic standards are the highest in the country. But in less than two weeks, California’s State Board of Education will vote on whether or not to swap them out for new national standards-and there may be good reason to do so.
California’s academic rigor may be high, but its student proficiency rates still trail behind many states with less stringent standards. Consider the state of Maryland. According to a study released by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education think tank, Maryland’s standards are less rigorous than California’s. But a separate report by Education Week ranked Maryland first in the country for overall quality, with high marks for the indicators that measure academic achievement and a student’s success from school to the workforce.
Supporters of the switch to the Obama administration’s so-called “Common Core Standards,” including Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, say that the new framework makes more sense because it focuses on building critical grade skills and abilities rather than touching on a long list of academic materials.