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7.4: Are we moving toward a national curriculum?

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    by Ken Gauss

    National standards play a critical role in today’s educational community. These standards shape what is taught to students, and more importantly, how teachers teach. National standards have a profound impact not just on the regular education classroom, but also the advanced programs including Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate.

    National Standards

    In education, there has always been a debate over what to teach our students. In addition, it is important to remember that how something is taught is as valuable as what is being taught. The top programs in today’s American school system are the Advanced Placement program and the International Baccalaureate program. When creating national standards, these programs must be held in high regard. The brightest students along with the best teachers participate in these programs. National standards should be developed that can challenge not only students but teachers as well.

    International Baccalaureate

    The International Baccalaureate Organization states that educational standards are a key part in the development of sound students and teachers ( The IB student completes a rigorous program and is challenged on a daily basis. While the students work their way through the program they are forced to meet objectives. Within the IB program, students reach above and beyond what is typically expected of them. IB students must understand how the learning system is not compiled of separate parts, but is the sum of all parts together. National standards can unify students and objectives together as one.

    “The International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge program provides students a complete view of education” (High Performance). Students have the chance to examine each area of education. Students begin to realize that while learning is different for each area, the basic methods used are the same. In this way students are pushed to understand how each content area interacts. Within each way of knowing is an intermittent part of the others. Each area in and of itself directly affects the others. Once students understand the standards they achieve a better understanding of their learning experience. These standards which can be transferred directly to the national system enhance the learning experience. In this portion of the program students begin to breakdown the walls that divide learning, and view the educational instrument as a whole. Through this portion of the International Baccalaureate program, students understand that each standard directly affects the others.

    Advanced Placement

    Advanced Placement program also provides students with an opportunity to challenge themselves at a higher level. In the Advanced Placement program students are given college level work, and upon completion, they are given the chance to receive college credit for their efforts. Since these advanced students are learning on a college level they are exposed to college-level material. Being that national standards must push the envelope in the world of education, it is pivotal for advanced placement to play a role in the creation of these standards. As students study in the AP program, they are constantly forced to look outside the box, and approach problems full circle. This skill proves to be vital in the forming of any type of national standard. If they are allowed to only approach problems from the most obvious viewpoint they are denied the experience of seeing problems through. Also they do not gain the chance to observe these from different angles, and achieve solutions which shy away from the norm. More often than not educational problems can’t be solved with the most obvious solution. By taking the Advanced Placement outlook students see problems in different way, and thus find more complete solutions.

    Standards are a vital part of education. In every educational community standards can vary, and students are taught differently. This leads to varying educational levels across the country. In recognizing this problem, it is easily understood that national standards need to be established in order to form a more complete educational plan. With both the International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement programs, students are challenged to bring out their fullest potential. With this in mind, we can see that national standards should be shaped around these programs. Not all students are capable of performing in advanced programs, but all students should be challenged to their maximum potentials. When standards are made that require students to reach inside themselves, the ultimate result is students that are better than before. These standards create students who not only solve problems, but understand the issues surrounding the problems.


    In the creation of national standards, teachers and students must understand that these advanced programs provide an excellent base to build an educational program. Students who are taught within these standards develop as complete packages in the world’s eye. Teachers who teach with these standards not only better students, but better themselves. In teaching on a higher level, teachers inspire students and provide a much needed advancement in the national educational standard. Students pushed to be better themselves ultimately become people who push for a better tomorrow. In establishing a national standard largely influenced by advanced programs there can only be an improvement in education as a whole. With teachers and students constantly pushed to better themselves the entire nation will improve.


    "It is better to solve one problems five ways than five problems one way" - George Polya


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    International Baccalaureate Organization