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Physical Education Teacher Education Leaders’ Perceptions on a National Curriculum in Physical Education

Junghwan Oh & Kim C. Graber

rqes cover march 2019

Education reform has been at the center of political and academic debates over the past two decades. Specifically, curriculum improvement and emphasis on accountability have been at the top of the agenda. In 1983, a document titled A Nation at Risk (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983) reported that the academic progress of students in the United States (US) was in decline and failing to prepare graduates to compete in a rapidly changing job market within the global economy. Many government leaders and educational professionals argue that establishing challenging academic standards, unified standardized testing, and accountability measures are essential remedies (Hursh, 2008). In response, several educational initiatives intended to set nationwide goals, establish standardized testing and accountability systems, and reform teacher education were implemented.

Despite the 1990s multifaceted efforts to raise learning standards, however, there was no visible improvement in student achievement in core subjects throughout the nation (National Center for Education Statistics, 2017). Some scholars believe that the root cause of lack of the significant progress of student performance is attributed to disparate content standards that vary widely from state to state (Common Core State Standards Initiative [CCSSI], 2017). For example, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation signed in 2002 by the George W. Bush administration was grounded on the standardsbased system outlined by the 1994 reauthorization of Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The act called for challenging standards and rigorous, extensive assessment measures to not only monitor student progress but also hold school personnel accountable for student achievement. Some, however, argue that the lack of a mandatory set of standards underpinning the NCLB Act resulted in highly uneven consequences in implementation and student performance across states (Savage, 2016). The absence of consistency is a primary reason explaining why states developed “Common Core” standards. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) effort, led jointly by state leaders including school chiefs, administrators, and governors from 48 states comprising the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers, represents one step toward a national curriculum. (Burks et al., 2015).

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