Volume 3, Issue C ::: September 1999
Standards-based education, as Regie Stites writes, has been "one of the hottest topics in education reform for more than a decade." Driven by general interest and by the Workforce Investment Act, more and more states and programs are moving towards standards-based education. But, as I discovered when the articles for this issue started arriving, what they mean by standards-based education, and how they implement it, differs widely.
Stites comes to our rescue, providing definitions that make sense, and an overview that clarifies many questions I had. I propose that we the field of adult education adopt the definitions he provides us with in his article. This will enable us to talk to each other as we puzzle out the role of standards-based education in adult basic education.
Other writers in this issue share their experiences in implementing standards-based education at the teacher, program, state, and national levels. Jim Carabell, who drives the back roads of Vermont to tutor students in their homes, describes his coming to terms with a standards-based approach. Jane Meyer, whose Canton, Ohio, Even Start program is implementing Equipped for the Future, finds that while standards-based education has proved fruitful for learners, changing over to this approach demands much of her staff. Esther Leonelli writes about the evolution of math standards, and about how she implements those standards in her mathematics classroom in Cambridge, MA. Brian Kane, of Washington State's Department of Education, explains why his state chose a standards-based approach when designing their new state plan, and gives us a peek at how they are implementing this approach. On the national level, Sondra Stein, architect of the National Institute for Literacy's Equipped for the Future (EFF) Initiative, provides us with a history of the development of EFF. And if you flip to the Blackboard, you'll see mention of standards-based activities in Massachusetts, California, and at the organization TESOL.
In addition to providing us with workable definitions, Stites also reminds us that adult basic education has a variety of major national initiatives underway: the National Reporting System, Equipped for the Future, and the National Assessment of Adult Literacy. I hope that these initiatives, as well as the TESOL standards efforts and a variety of local activities, coordinate with each other. And I join Stites in championing opportunity-to-learn standards, providing, of course, that the resources needed to meet the standards are made available as well.