The U.S. Department of Education (1994) notes the goal of high standards in education:
"Establishing high standards lets everyone in the education system know what to aim for. They allow every student, every parent, and every teacher to share in common expectations of what students should know and be able to accomplish. Students will learn more when more is expected of them, in school and at home. And standards will help create coherence in educational practices by aligning teacher education, instructional materials, and assessment practices."
Standards have been developed by a variety of professional groups, state educational agencies, and local school districts. In many cases, these standards have few similarities in form, level of specificity, or nature. However, they do seem to have one area of commonality, according to McLaughlin and Shepard (1995):
"The standards being developed by various professional groups, states, and local districts are by no means uniform in their conception of curricula or their philosophical assumptions. Nevertheless, most standards-based approaches to education reform have a common overarching goal: high standards for all students. This goal has two equally important strategic components: challenging standards for what students should know and do, and an accompanying agenda for educational equity." (pp. 7-8)
In National Science Education Standards, the National Committee on Science Education Standards and Assessment (1996) summarizes what many educational leaders in all disciplines and most leading standards proponents have come to recognize:
"Efforts to achieve the vision of [science] education set forth in the Standards will be time-consuming, expensive, and sometimes uncomfortable. They also will be exhilarating and deeply rewarding. Above all, the great potential benefit to students requires that we act now. There is no more important task before us as a nation." (p. 9)
For additional information on standards, refer to the following sources: