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Goals Panel Offers Hints of Shape of 'Report Card'

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Washington--Members of the National Education Goals Panel last week offered hints at what their first "report card" would look like, and also how they plan to develop standards for measuring student achievement in the future.

Governor Roy Romer of Colorado, the panel's chairman, also said at a panel meeting last week that the committee of governors and Administration officials had agreed to form a "staff working group" to recommend how the federal government's effort should be assessed on the first report card.

That issue had threatened to divide the panel along partisan lines, with Democrats worried that the Administration was trying to escape accountability for progress on the goals. (See Education Week, April 10, 1991.)

"We are coming to a resolution of the process we are going to use to get that done," Mr. Romer said last week.

But Governor Booth Gardner of Washington--like Mr. Romer, a Democrat--indicated that the related issue of whether and how the re4port card would measure resources devoted to education had not been resolved.

In discussing what they learned at regional forums over the past month, most of the panel members expressed pleasure that the goals were well-received.

"I think two years ago we would have heard a crescendo of objections to national anything," Mr. Romer said.

But Mr. Gardner noted a common thread of criticism.

"The applause line always came in the same place and the same context: There's too much emphasis on measurement and not enough on resources," he said.

Mr. Romer reiterated that he thinks both elements are important. Republican panel members did not comment.

Report Card's Format

The panel's executive director, Pascal D. Forgione, said the staff had proposed a format for the first report card, which is due in September, that would consist of a report divided into sections for each of the six national education goals adopted last year by the Administration and the National Governors' Association.

Each section would contain relevant national statistics, a breakdown of those measurements by state, and "a summary of where we are" in regard to achieving the goal, Mr. Forgione said.

Mr. Romer said the panel is trying to work out arrangements to "do a joint report" with the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which is slated to release its first-ever state-by-state assessment, in mathematics, shortly before the goals panel's report card is due.

The naep report will also be the first to announce how many students have demonstrated "basic," "proficient," and "advanced" levels of achievement on the tests, and Mr. Romer said he would like to include those breakdowns in the goals panel's report. (See related story, page 1.)

In the long run, panel members said, they would like to gather groups of "stakeholders" to set standards in each of the subject areas mentioned in the goal that calls for all students to "demonstrate competency" in English, mathematics, science, history, and geography.

They again cited as an example the ongoing efforts of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics to set curriculum and teacher-training standards for their field--although that effort did not establish the kind of specific achievement standards envisioned by the goals panel.

"We want to set in motion the kind of thing the math teachers did for themselves," Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander said.

"This is going to be a bottom-up, participatory process," Mr. Romer said, responding to concerns expressed by educators at the panel's forums. "We are not going to impose this from above." (See Education Week, April 24, 1991.)

"We are going to go to the stakeholders, and together we are going to decide what the standards are, Mr. Romer said.

"I think who the participants should be is obvious: educators, but also those who will use the information" in the report cards, such as colleges, employers, parents, and community leaders, he added.

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