This is long overdue and could be a tremendous leap forward. It’s also almost inconceivable. Kudos to The Council of Chief State School Officers,The National Governors Association, Arne Duncan, Achieve, and other forces behind this.
In the curriculum development world, 50 sets of state standards has long been a challenge, to put it mildly. Having different standards for every state has doubtless added many hundreds of millions of dollars to textbook costs. (Texas, one of the few holdouts, estimates it will cost them $3 billion to change gears. How much will it save them in the long run though? Much more than that.)
And in an era of accountability and “leaving no child behind,” do 50 sets of standards make any sense?
Having common standards could be a real boon for the open textbook movement as well. Being able to develop textbooks around common standards that could then be adopted in one version by all states is a much more reasonable proposition.
The commercial textbook model is already badly broken. Most textbooks do not meet the needs of students. They are not accessible due to the input of overly large, special interest-driven committees who can’t say no to anything. Worst of all, they are expensive and state-mandated, taking funding away from other more effective instructional tools.
But textbook publishers have somewhat of a lock on the market due to complex legacy state approval and purchasing processes. Common state standards could be the beginning of an end to this travesty.
It’s encouraging to think that such substantive and substantial change is possible in the educational bureaucracy.