New Standards Project: Pew Charitable Trusts and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, 1990

Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society (Duke)



Case Study Sector


In 1990, the Pew Charitable Trusts and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation launched a new collaborative—the New Standards Project (NSP)—to promulgate a set of “best practices” and benchmarks of achievement that would help schools ensure that their students were, in fact, learning at grade level. The two foundations made initial grants to two not-for-profits dedicated to reform in American education: the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE), and the Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC), at the University of Pittsburgh. With these funds, the two organizations created New Standards, an education organization based in Washington, D.C.
The debate over how much centralization is desirable in public education is still very much alive. But the need for some degree of uniformity, of expectations and evaluation, has gained significant traction in the public consciousness. The most visible sign of this is, of course, the No Child Left Behind Act. Passed by Congress with bipartisan support in 2001, the Act mandates common standards and rigorous measurement of progress toward specific educational goals.



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