Much ado has been made about setting high standards over the past year. In his first major address on education policy, given just two months after he took the oath of office, President Barack Obama put the issue on the national agenda. They ought “to stop lowballing expectations for our kids,” he said, adding that “the solution to low test scores is not lowering standards—it’s tougher, clearer standards.” In March 2010, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan accused educators of having “lowered the bar” so they could meet the requirements set by the federal education law, No Child Left Behind (NCLB), which requires that all students be proficient in reading and math by the year 2014. Current conversations about creating a common national standard largely focus on the substantive curriculum to be taught at various grade levels. Even more important, we submit, is each state’s expectations for student performance with respect to the curriculum, as expressed through its proficiency standard. Curricula can be perfectly designed, but if the proficiency bar is set very low, little is accomplished by setting the content standards in the first place.
Peterson, Paul E. and Carlos Xabel Lastra-Anadón. "State Standards Rise in Reading, Fall in Math." Education Next 10.4 (Fall 2010): 12-16.