Rethinking Standardization

Here is a list of posts that I have written on why standardization is not the solution - rather it is the problem.

At the heart of standardization is the result of a misguided belief that in order to provide an excellent education for all children, we must provide them all with the same education.

Standardization is Stifling - here's a cool picture to illustrate why fair isn't always equal and why standardization is ignorant to this.

Common Assessment = Undifferentiated Assessment - too many assessments are standardized and impersonal.

Learning Patience - Here's a story about the Giant Bamboo and how it relates to learning.

The Alberta/Finland Partnership - Centralized systems that are saturated with bureaucracy require large doses of standardization.

Education for all - Are all kids entitled to a great education? Of course. But that doesn’t mean all kids should get the same education.

Standardized inequality - What could be be more inequitable than expecting everyone to learn the same things, to the same level of competence, in the same amount of time?

Common and standardization are not the same thing - Until we understand that we can not provide learners with their needs by pretending that everyone has the same needs, standardization will continue to look like the solution rather than the problem it really is.

Illusion of standardization - When "collaboration" is really code for standardization, professional development becomes nothing more than control over actions.

Fair isn't always equal - When we confuse fairness with equality we marginalize and victimize the very students who need us most.

Standardization: it will fill you up but with nothing good - I know an awful lot of teachers who see consistency and standardization as a good thing.

Standardization: cui bono? - Who benefits from standardization?

We need more... standardization?! - here's a true story about how teachers sell their autonomy and professionalism for standardization.

Hollow promises - we still place far too much emphasis on narrow minded, paper and pencil, multiple choice exams.

Standards and Standardization - There is nothing wrong with having high standards, but who said that having high standards means everyone has to do the same thing.

People's Republic of Standardization - Yong Zhao's book Catching Up or Leading the Way is a must read for educators and policy makers who want to see where our current high stakes testing regimes will take us.


  1. Joe,

    Why does the current educational practice put so much emphasis on a Provincial Diploma mark when the shelf life is so short? From my experience as soon as I recieved a grade from a University or College my High School marks were forgotten.

    brent chalmers

  2. Excellent collection of links. Thanks for sharing this. I posted my thoughts since Sk recently decreed we, too, will have a keju!

  3. I'm from Barcelona, Catalònia. I 'm very interested in formative assessment. We are using rubrics to share standards with students,and then they decide the grade.Is the rubric a good scaffold to do the conversation to assess them?Thanks a lot for all your reflections.

  4. mmas,

    I'm not a fan of rubrics because they tend to still reduce learning to numbers. See this post for more:

    I'd rather frame my conversations with my students like this:

    1. Observe and communicate to the student what I see.

    2. Offer formative feedback to student that asks the student to continue doing certain things and to consider making improvements.

    3. Ask questions in regards to how or what they might have done differently.

    Here is a post on these 3 steps I use for feedback:

    Also, check out Alfie Kohn's article on The Trouble with Rubrics