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Opportunity-to-Learn Standards and the State Role in Education


by Richard F. Elmore & Susan H. Fuhrman 1995

Standards are the new focus of state and federal policymaking in education. The current policy debate addresses several types of standards, including performance, content, and opportunity to learn (OTL). This article focuses on opportunity-to-learn standards, which define a set of conditions that schools, districts, and states must meet in order to ensure students an equal opportunity to meet expectations for their performance. States have been concerned about the issues raised by OTL standards for over a century, but they have not had much success in addressing these issues with state policy. We present some explanations for the historical inability of states to influence the equal provision of education and we offer some principles for designing new state policies that incorporate new knowledge about opportunity to learn. We conclude the article with a discussion of how states might address the underlying problem of reconciling policies more focused on performance with the problems of assuring equitable opportunities to learn.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 96 Number 3, 1995, p. 432-457
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 28, Date Accessed: 12/12/2017 3:29:33 AM

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About the Author
  • Richard Elmore
    Harvard University
    E-mail Author
    Richard F. Elmore is professor of education, Harvard Graduate School of Education, and senior research fellow of the Consortium for Policy Research in Education. He is author of Restructuring Schools: The Next Generation of Educational Reform (Jossey-Bass, 1990).
  • Susan Fuhrman
    University of Pennsylvania
    E-mail Author
    Susan H. Fuhrman is director of the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE), Rutgers University. She is the editor of The Governance of Curriculum (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1994).
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