The quest to set educational standards has become ubiquitous in North America and abroad. In many jurisdictions, ambitious standards have been set for student achievement, school effectiveness, teacher professionalism, and administrator competence. In jurisdictions where such standards are not yet in place, the standard-setting agenda is being moved forward expeditiously, often in order to comply with legislated requirements. As the movement to set educational standards gains traction and momentum, a spirited and an increasingly partisan debate has grown in both scholarly and practitioner journals as well as in the popular press. The participants in this debate include those who would make existing standards still more encompassing and consequential, researchers who seek to understand the many and sometimes unintended effects that standards have had, and those who aggressively dispute both the content of and the benefits claimed for educational standards. Despite this debate, the movement to set and enforce standards appears ...