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Making Diplomas Meaningful: Standardization and Customization
Making diplomas meaningful: Standardization and customization

Standards are nothing new; for centuries people have debated what students should learn. In the opening lines of Charles Dickens's Hard Times, Superintendent Gradgrind delivers a rousing message about his standards to a teacher and his class.

NOW, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them.

In Gradgrind's mind, students either learned facts or what he terms “fancy”—fiction, poetry, the arts, and even “What if” reasoning. Students need to be taught, for example, that carpeting ...

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