Resources on District Policies

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This was something I wrote for a class when I was going for my education masters.

One of the difficulties for new and pre-service teachers is determining the standards in effect for a specific locality. My professor suggested that I examine three resources: the website Education World, the National Center for Educational Outcomes and the various state websites, before describing the information these provide on state and local school district standards.

I started with Education World. There are various links on the bottom of the home page, including a School Resources section which provides a hyperlink for “State/Nat’l Education Standards.” That introduces a page that provides links to various national standards (including Common Core, Department of Defense schools, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ American Indian Content Standards) as well as state standards grouped by either state or content area. When I clicked on the link for the page that provides standards by state on the morning of September 10, I was sent to a page that simply had the message “You are not authorized to access this page” without any further information on how to obtain access.

Clicking on one of the standards grouped by content area sent me to the appropriate page. The links are imperfect, as an attempt to find the requirements for a content area in a state leads to a general website for the state, but these eventually lead to the right place. I tested it out by searching for the ELA standards in Florida, and was eventually directed to a website that listed the relevant information. While searching for the Math standards for North Dakota, I was directed to the home page of the state government’s Department of Public Instruction website. That website was slightly more difficult to navigate (The “Assessments”  subsection of the Educators section was blank) but I eventually found the standards in the Community section.

The National Center on Educational Outcomes provides information relevant to teaching certain kinds of students. The State Policies section provides links to resources on the policies for ELLs, as well as students with disabilities, in a given state. The Standards and Accountability section does not provide links to national or state standards. There is a brief overview and Frequently Asked Questions section, although the focus remains on students with disabilities, and ELLs. There isn’t much information about state standards for the rest of the student body.

State websites also provide resources. The local department of education website is typically the first result on Google when you search for a state and the word “education.” There are still some complications. The first result for “North Dakota Education” leads to the state government website, and it is cumbersome to find the relevant information in the Education section if you are unaware that it is contained in the links for the Department of Public Instruction. Fortunately for us, the New York state website is relatively easy to navigate, as there is a link about common core on the home page which leads to the Engageny website. That allows anyone interested in the information to download a PDF with the national standards, as well as corresponding standards that are exclusive to the state.

These have not provided information for how the standards differ in a particular school district. That requires searching for the individual school districts, although the resources can be limited and of mixed quality. To give an example, there is no explanation in the website of the Buffalo Public School system about standards that are unique to the city. There is an explanation of common core, and a link to various state standards. This is arguably of greater relevance to the majority of the audience, the parents and local educators who have no need to compare their hometown to any other location.

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About Thomas Mets

I’m a comic book fan, wannabe writer, politics buff and New Yorker. I don’t actually follow baseball. In the Estonian language, “Mets” simply means forest, or lousy sports team. Currently, I’m writing a few comic books about my grandparents’ experiences in Soviet Estonia for Grayhaven comics. You can email me at mistermets@gmail.com
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