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Chiefs Add Testing, At-Risk Data to Indicators Report

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The Council of Chief State School Officers has released an expanded version of its annual State Education Indicators that includes for the first time data on state assessment systems and at-risk students.

According to the new data, obtained in a 1989 survey, 43 states currently have student-assessment and "accountability" systems in place.

Although comparable state statistics for previous years are not available, Gordon Ambach, the group's executive director, estimated that "states have vastly increased their statewide assessment and accountability systems in the last decade."

The report, the third to be issued by the council, also includes a state-by-state look at demographic and other characteristics of school districts. The information is based on data from the 1980 U.S. Census.

In addition, the report offers a statistical rundown of state policies and programs, including the amount of instructional time, student attendance, and teacher-preparation requirements.

In its attempt to provide more information on students at risk of school failure, the ccsso has culled a variety of federal statistics to list for each state the numbers of: teenage mothers, teenage mothers who are school dropouts, children who live in households below the poverty line, and limited-English-proficient students.

Mr. Ambach noted that the indicators will be revised in coming years to include educational outcomes such as levels of student achievement, graduation rates, and rates of progress toward completion of a degree.

Next year, the indicators will include results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress's 1990 mathematics test, which will attempt to measure 8th-grade students' knowledge of the subject in 38 states.

In two years, dropout statistics will be included.

Mr. Ambach noted that 29 states are currently participating in a council-supported project to standardize dropout data.

Ramsay Selden, director of the ccsso State Education Assessment Center and chief researcher for the report, said the database it provides will be used by states interested in measuring their students' performance against that of students in other states.

"Eventually," he said, "we'll be able to look back on this information and other federal data to see how far we've come."

Collection of such data is a vital part of attempts to set education goals, both nationally and within states, Mr. Ambach pointed out.

Copies of the report are available for $12.50 each from the Council of Chief State School Officers, State Education Assessment Center, 400 North Capitol St., N.W., Suite 377, Washington, D.C. 20001-1511.

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