Worst thing about coaches is they always talk between themselves during faculty meetings. Best thing about them is they're good during strikes. ;)
A little more about real standards:
Katzman and Hodas in "Class Action" suggest that no one really knows what works in education. Despite the billions of dollars spent, there is little objective evidence of the efficacy of just about anything. I know the NCTM claims the Standards are "research based", but it's terribly difficult to find where any of this stuff has been field tested with good results. (I'm not using this as an occasion to bash the Standards again, but to state what I see as a simple truth.)
Their solution is what they call "multiple national curricula". For math there might be fifty different curricula developed by all types of sources. Perhaps Harvard would develop its own curricula and textbook publishers would develop materials reflecting that.
Now here's the rub. Each curricula would have a final exam (oops, assessment) associated with it. This exam would be given in place of a final, under AP-type conditions. The grade of this assessment would be scored by impartial observers and the score on the exam would be entered into the students' cumulative record along with their grade in the course.
This doesn't mean that we'd all have standardized norm tests. If your cup of tea was the more radical type material, say Math for Opera Singers, your final assessment might be a performance of the Aria de Trig. Perhaps it would be taped and sent off to Cambridge for assessing.
Their thinking is this would make for heightened student accountability and, in turn, heightened teacher accountability as teachers see how their students are doing versus their peers in other schools in other locales and states. Detailed teacher questionnaires might enlighten other teachers on the correlation with success of various teaching strategies.
Admittedly, Katzman and Hodas don't like competency testing, but I think it would be a neccessary evil of this whole new accountability structure. Starting early (like second or third grade) students would be assessed as to objective criteria. It makes no sense to continue in the same manner with students of any age who aren't participating and benefitting in their own education. Of course, during the elementary years, there wouldn't be a punitive nature to the exams, but some state mandated intervention might be necessary for kids who are falling farther and farther behind.
These state competency assessments would take place every three of four years, culminating in a "leaving exam" at the end of the 12th grade.
Of course, the question is what would these exams look like? For math, I would suggest this format. The test would be standardized, multiple choice or short answer on the Japanese model (which are very clever). Scoring open ended questions on a state-wide scale is just too expensive.
The test would be divided, either explicity or implicity into three parts: a) basic computation, b) traditional word (oops) story problems, and c) problems reflecting higher order thinking skills and problem solving. To pass, a student would need to show mastery in two of the three parts.
A student taking IMP might be expected to excell at (b) and (c), while a Saxonista might be expected to do well on parts (a) and (b). Thus, the various national curricula might be compared. And a nice side effect would be to compare those students on the parts they aren't supposed to excell at. Might the IMP students do better on the computation compared to the Saxon students on the problem solving part?
Anyway, perhaps a wild idea, but something's got to be done. Where I'm from, we're in deep trouble.
Hart LAUSD "Home of noisy faculty meetings and teacher strikes"