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S.R.E.B. Assesses State Action on Education Goals

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A year after the Southern Regional Education Board outlined goals for improving education and measures of progress toward achieving them, nearly all of its 15 member states have adopted such targets or are in the process of developing them, a report by the board concludes.

In six states, the report found, legislatures have passed laws setting goals or mandating that they be set, while in four others, lawmakers have adopted resolutions relating to goals.

In addition, Mississippi's Governor, Virginia's secretary of education, and Maryland's state board of education have proposed targets for those states' school systems.

Only three states--Alabama, Kentucky, and North Carolina--have failed to take action on statewide goals, the report notes. It points out, however, that the Alabama board of education has taken steps to hold schools accountable for student performance, that the North Carolina legislature mandated that local districts set goals, and that Kentucky is under court order to overhaul its entire school system.

"States, schools, and school districts had goals" before the education board's 1988 report on goal-setting, said Lynn M. Cornett, the sreb's vice president for state services, "but we're seeing more specific, measurable goals."

National Goals

Although the states' targets differ, the report notes, the most common goals are in six areas: school readiness; school performance; student achievement; reducing the dropout rate; college readiness; and attracting, retaining, and compensating teachers and faculty members.

Many of these areas are also expected to be included among the national goals to be set this month by President Bush and the nation's governors. But Ms. Cornett said she does not anticipate any conflict between the two sets of objectives.

"There will be commonality between the national and state goals," she predicted. "Different states will set additional goals for areas important for the situation in that state."

The report also notes that setting goals is "only a preliminary step toward educational improvement."

"Obviously, states cannot adopt goals and stop there, expecting success," it states. "Milestones must be set; progress toward meeting goals must be assessed; and the public must be informed in straightforward terms to sustain the support necessary to achieve significant improvements."

Copies of "Educational Goals in sreb States" are available for $5 each from the Southern Regional Education Board, 592 10th St., N.W., Atlanta, Ga. 30318-5790.

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