Does the focus on Content Standards detract from rigor?

AIRStates should focus more on setting high performance standards than on debating the content of their academic standards. This is according to a new report out from the American Institutes for Research.


Content standards, not performance standards, have been almost the sole focus of state policies and recent conversations about academic standards. Although the movement to adopt rigorous education content standards is evidence that states are motivated to raise academic expectations, current performance standards do not give accurate measures of student achievement. Without rigorous content and performance standards, we cannot adequately prepare students for the global marketplace.


A recent American Institutes for Research (AIR) study shows that state performance standards are consistently low and extremely variable across states. Low state standards allow many students to be described as “proficient,” when students are not adequately prepared for success beyond high school. In addition, the variability across states results in students in states with the lowest standards performing three to four grades levels below those in states with higher standards.


States should use evidence-based methods of standard setting, such as the benchmark method, to create and adopt rigorous performance standards that prepare students to compete in the global marketplace.

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