Tom Loveless

Between the State and the Schoolhouse

New! Published April 2021

Between the State and the Schoolhouse cover
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Between the State and the Schoolhouse examines the Common Core State Standards from the initiative’s promising beginnings to its disappointing outcomes. Situating the standards in the long history of state and federal efforts to shape education, the book describes a series of critical lessons that highlight the political and structural challenges of large-scale, top-down reforms. The analysis shows that there are too many layers between the state and the classroom for a standards-based approach to be effective. A significant gap looms between the state’s role in designing education policy and the teacher’s role in implementing policy, especially in terms of curriculum and instruction. Moreover, it is impossible to predict how standards as written will be realized in practice as--at each level of the system--they are shaped by bureaucratic and political forces.  Standards are inherently regulatory.  Under standards-based reform, curriculum and instruction are judged not by their effectiveness in boosting student learning but by their conformity to the standards’ preferences. The book concludes by urging that school improvement efforts shift from regulation to the discovery of new, more effective instructional strategies and curricular materials.

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