Political Decisions Determinant Academic Standards

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Updated: Aug 21, 2023
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Every citizen is entitled to the natural right of education. The nature of education in a country depends on government policies. These policies determine the content students are supposed to learn, when they should be assessed, parents’ participation in educational matters, inclusion in education, and funding of particular subjects. Also, it is the responsibility of the government to monitor how students are faring. Therefore, the government needs to make sound decisions since they affect education.

Political decisions determine academic standards. The government sets rules on what students should learn at respective academic levels.

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Under the ‘Every Student Succeeds Act’ (ESSA), every state should set its own education standards and coursework for schools, which encompasses the content that students, depending on their grades, should learn. This law requires states to develop assessments that ‘challenge’ the students’ proficiency in reading, mathematics, and science, thereby preparing students to succeed at higher academic levels. Furthermore, these standards must apply to all students, including slow learners and thinkers (Everystudentsucceedsact.org, n.d.). Thus, academic standards are determined by the state.

Additionally, the government sets rules on what subjects are to be taught in schools. Under ESSA, states must develop ‘challenging’ examinations for reading, mathematics, and science. To meet ESSA requirements, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) mandates fourth and eighth graders from all states to take NAEP reading and mathematics assessments. These assessments, which are part of the requirements to receive federal aid, are administered every two years. Although states that do not participate in NAEP will not be sanctioned, nor will those that participate receive any reward, participation in NAEP for other subjects and grades is voluntary (National Assessment Governing Board, 2017). The Mississippi Curriculum Test, Second Edition (MCT2), complies with the requirements of ESSA by assessing Mississippi third to eighth graders in reading, language arts, and mathematics (Jackson, 2014). Mississippi uses these results to improve instruction and accelerate student achievement. Therefore, subjects such as reading and mathematics are taught and assessed in U.S. schools to comply with federal requirements.

Education-related decisions made by the government also influence the timing of student assessments. Under ESSA, states must test students, although the number and type of tests depend on their grade level. Learners’ skills in mathematics and reading are tested annually from third to eighth grade and once in high school. In addition, students in elementary, middle, and high school are assessed once in science. In unavoidable circumstances, a small number of students may be given alternative tests different from those administered by the state. Only a small number of students with mental disabilities may take alternative assessments (Everystudentsucceedsact.org, n.d.).

The main NAEP exams take place in winter, from January to March. After fourth- and eighth-graders complete the mandatory reading and mathematics examinations, the results are typically reported within six months. Other NAEP results are released one year after the administration of the tests. Thirteen-year-olds undertake the long-term trend assessments in the fall, whilst the nine- and seventeen-year-olds do these assessments in the winter and spring, respectively. The findings of long-term assessments are usually reported one year after their execution (National Assessment Governing Board, 2017). Thus, although schools can provide random tests to gauge their students’ proficiency in certain areas, the timing for administering main state and national exams is established by states and the government.

The government implements rules that hold schools accountable for their performance. For example, under the ESSA, schools are responsible for their academic results. This means that states should formulate plans to identify underperforming schools. In accordance to the ESSA policy, states should incorporate the following academic indicators in their accountability plans: the number of students graduating from high school, learners’ proficiency in English, and measures of academic achievement and progress. Another optional academic indicator is the methodology used for measuring learning quality or student success, which can be approached in several ways. For instance, states may assess kindergarten readiness, discipline rates, chronic absenteeism, or even college preparedness (Everystudentsucceedsact.org, n.d.). Schools have the freedom to function as they wish, but who is responsible for holding them accountable for subpar performance? The government plays a crucial role in identifying underperforming schools and takes necessary actions.

A crucial aspect of education is inclusion. Inclusion promotes interaction between students with special needs and those without. While inclusion rejects segregation, it utilizes special facilities to accommodate students with disabilities. Inclusion is significant because it allows all students to feel a part of their communities, fostering a sense of belonging, and prepares them for society as they transition into adulthood (Zgaga & GmbH, 2019). Political decision-making contributes to the achievement of inclusion in education. To ensure that the NAEP fully represents the nation, students selected to participate in NAEP exams include English learners and those with disabilities. The inclusion and accommodation policy of the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) is designed to minimize bias, promote fair comparisons and ensure greater student participation in NAEP (National Assessment Governing Board, 2017). Thus, political policies aid in eliminating divisions based on disability or any other factor, thereby enhancing inclusion in education.

The government can subsidize education in multiple ways, including funding certain subjects where performance is low. The ESSA underwrites some optional reading and literacy programs, including two critical reading and literacy programs for learners who struggle in these areas. States receive funds through ESSA’s Literacy Education Grant Program. In 2016, ESSA allocated $160 million to assist schools in teaching language. Schools use these funds to buy tools necessary for sharpening children’s reading and literacy skills such as reading fluency and decoding (Everystudentsucceedsact.org, n.d.). Hence, the government can facilitate learning in specific subjects by providing monetary support.

Furthermore, some policies require a parent’s participation in children’s education. Parents may give their opinions on how the government is dealing with academic goals and recommend changes. The ESSA policy requires states to allow parents to participate in evaluating school accountability. Parents provide input to ensure schools consider children with special needs. According to ESSA, there are two areas where parents’ participation is required. First, parents should evaluate and give opinions on how the state and district are addressing accountability and helping students with special needs catch up with those who do not have special needs. Second, parents should be allowed to share their views on the report cards developed by their state and school district (EveryStudentSucceedsAct.org, n.d.). This informs the public about school performance. Thus, parents play a role in improving how the state manages education.

The government has various roles to play, including providing legal frameworks, stabilizing the economy, and ensuring its people’s safety. Educational matters fall under the legal framework. The government makes decisions that affect a country’s education quality. It influences coursework content, assessment of learners, parents’ participation, social inclusion, school accountability, and funding for specific subjects, all of which affect education.


  1. Everystudentsucceedsact.org. (n.d.). The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Retrieved from www.everystudentsucceedsact.org: http://www.everystudentsucceedsact.org/
  2. Jackson. (2014, August 26). Statewide test results available for public viewing. Retrieved from Mississippi Department of Education: https://www.mdek12.org/OCGR/statewide-test-results-available-for-public-viewing
  3. National Assessment Governing Board. (2017). What Is NAEP? Retrieved from www.nagb.gov: https://www.nagb.gov/about-naep/what-is-naep.html
  4. Zgaga, P., & GmbH, P. L. (2019). Inclusion in education: Reconsidering limits, identifying possibilities. Berlin Peter Lang GmbH: Internationaler Verlag der Wissenschaften.  
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Political decisions determinant academic standards. (2021, Nov 30). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/political-decisions-determinant-academic-standards/