As California’s accountability system places great emphasis on annual school improvement in Academic Performance Index (API) scores, this study investigates the within school effects of changes in student demographics and school resources on API gains. A balanced panel data set of 5,750 schools in California over the period of 1999-2008 was analyzed using a fixed effects model.
As standards-based accountability systems have become common in American schools, performance data on state and national tests have become the bottom line of the educational enterprise, with systems for analyzing student test performance and for raising student test scores garnering substantial interest. Calls for data-driven management seem to focus largely on the use of student performance data to help teachers and administrators respond earlier to signals about how students are likely to perform on end-of-year or periodic state and national tests. This form of assessment-driven education focuses almost entirely on student performance—the output of education. The authors of this chapter believe that there is another essential kind of assessment that is needed if student-based assessment is to have its full, intended effect.
In this study, we examine unintended consequences of a school district's standards-based reform effort.
One assumption underlying accountability policies is that results from standardized tests and other sources will be used to make decisions about school and classroom practice. We explore this assumption using data from a longitudinal study of nine high schools nominated as leading practitioners of Continuous Improvement (CI) practices.
Standards-based reform was proposed as a means to bring coherence to the education system and trigger reforms and investments targeted at greater learning. These benefits have materialized in some states but not others, depending on their strategies for change. This article proposes mid-course corrections needed to ensure that standards-based reforms support student success, rather than punishing those who are already underserved.
This article focuses on how a statewide reform initiative, when envisioned as a professional development opportunity, impacted teachers’ capacities to become change agents in their classrooms and districts and how individual district contexts shaped the development of those capacities.
Based on an interview study of fifty 1st- and 2nd-year teachers in Massachusetts, we describe a lack of curricular support for new teachers despite the progress of standards-based reform.
This article addresses informal classroom assessment in a manner consistent with a practitioner's perspective. Using results of teacher interviews, we present an alternative view of practitioner objectivity. This leads us to frame the reliability and validity of obervation for classroom assessment in a non-statistical way.
This chapter focuses on the issues that must be addressed and
the challenges that must be overcome to provide a credible answer to
questions regarding the impact of standards on the quality of instruction
received by students. Results from some preliminary investigations
are reported herein.
This chapter focuses primarily on the classroom effects of KERA in the six study schools, supplemented by findings of broader studies of KERA. Two research questions are addressed: (1) How has KERA influenced curriculum, instruction, and classroom assessment? and (2) How has KERA affected student learning?
This essays argues that U.S. society has lost track of a crucial conversation regarding the purposes of education in favor of one focused on high standards. The result is a failure to see the complex connections between school and society.
Background to the key notions underlying the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics.
One mathematician's view of the NCTM standards document.
A discussion of the danger of losing the essence of mathematics.
This article addresses the development, content, and potential for implementation of nationallly developed science education standards, including their adoption and effects at the state level.
A commentary on the national standards for science education from the perspective of a university faculty member in the physical sciences.
The author explores further the areas of agreement and disagreement across the articles about the general issue of active learning, teaching for understanding, or, at the risk of raising a red flag, constructivism.
This article questions whether the National Collegiate Athletic Organization (NCAA), an organization whose central role is regulating college and university sports, is really the appropriate group to dictate high school course standards. The article describes a growing national challenge to NCAA policies and procedures, and proposes next steps.
This article examines current debates about educational standards, accountability systems, and school reform from the perspective of Deci and Ryan’s Self-Determination Theory.
This article argues that new
high standards are necessary and desirable, but that alone they are not enough.
We cannot be satisfied until we can provide an excellent education
to every child in America. That is why the compelling evidence from
schools and communities across the country about the educational
benefits of service learning merits our serious attention. We must
begin to concentrate on what works in one community and learn how
to transplant it to another. It is often said that there is an answer to
every problem somewhere in America. Our challenge is to make those
answers available everywhere, and make success more the norm than
This article discusses the recent history of development in accountability in a variety of educational settings, focusing on the national standards for educational achievement and the complexity of problems in setting those standards. It highlights student diversity, cultural pluralism, and the development of equitable systems of educational assessment.
This article explores the principal elements of Goals 2000, the origins of the "new federalism," the education legislative record of the Clinton administration, and what further efforts are necessary to meet the needs of American students.
This article explains briefly the provisions of Goals 2000, emphasizing its support of ongoing educational change at the state and local levels and state flexibility to develop diverse approaches to reform. To illustrate this flexibility, this article describes reform activities in Vermont, Delaware, and Oregon, and explains how these states are using initial Goals 2000 funds.
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.
Goals 2000 defines the federal role as one of support and facilitation to improve all schools for all children while maintaining state and local control. The article discusses Goals 2000, looking at the beginning, the legislation, the national agenda, the state and local agenda, its passage into law, budgetary constraints, and the future.
In this chapter we argue that major changes in American society
are producing a radically different mission for schools--a mission
requiring new conceptions of accountability tied to new roles for
teachers. Social requirements are pressing for forms of schooling and
teaching that will ensure high levels of student learning for all rather
than the traditional school outcomes of success for some and failure for
many others. This means that schools must find ways to reach diverse
learners effectively rather than being accountable merely for "offering
education" or "delivering instruction" regardless of the outcomes.
The author speaks on the nature of the curriculum and appropriate standards in education from an economist’s point of view, and considers the issue of national standards from an international perspective.
The author suggests that we need to construct national standards that encourage and inspire school people; that allow for a pluralistic response to the pursuit of goals; and that standards need to be systematically reviewed and renewed in order to avoid typical bureaucratic anachronisms.