Bingaman Bill Would Require Annual 'Report Cards' on Goals
Washington--In what was described as an attempt to strengthen the process of setting national education goals, Senator Jeff Bingaman, Democrat of New Mexico, introduced a bill last week to create a council to develop education goals and issue reports on students' progress toward meeting them.
George J. Mitchell, the Senate majority leader, and Senator Edward M. Kennedy, chairman of the Labor and Human Resources Committee, are co-sponsors of the proposed legislation, "the national report card act of 1990."
Senator Bingaman, who held hearings last fall to highlight the "inadequacy" of the nation's data-gathering efforts in education, said the council also would identify gaps in existing education data and make recommendations for improving the federal government's assessment methods. (See Education Week, Nov. 15, 1989.)
The report card would be based on test scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, he said, as well as on "other information" the council determines is needed to evaluate educational quality.
Mr. Bingaman said he hoped the report card would eventually permit school-by-school comparisons of student achievement, although he acknowledged that such comparisons would require states to pump much more money into their data-collection efforts.
Under the bill, a 12-member National Council on Educational Goals, made up of "highly respected, bipartisan experts," would be created. Nine members would4have a vote; three would serve in an ex-officio capacity.
The President, in consultation with the National Governors' Association, would appoint the voting members; the Secretary of Education, the chairman of the nga, and the chairman of the governing board of naep would serve as ex-officio members.
In its first year, the council would analyze what information is available on the performance of both students and of public and private schools from the elementary grades through the postsecondary level.
The council would then develop a set of national education goals to be achieved by the year 2000, taking into account the goals now being drafted by President Bush and the nga It would also recommend ways to revise the national goals.
Gov. Bill Clinton of Arkansas, who is representing the nga in the current goal-setting process with the White House, also has recommended that such a national panel be created.
The bill specifies that the council must consider school readiness; student achievement in elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education; workforce and literacy skills; and "school performance," which is defined as attendance and completion rates, climate, teacher rewards, parent participation, and school financing.
Following its initial report outlining national goals, the council would be required to issue annual "report cards" on progress toward meeting those goals.