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Chiefs' Project To Assist 'Systemic' Reform in States

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The Council of Chief State School Officers has moved to strengthen its technical assistance to states that are pursuing "systemic'' reform.

The State Leadership Project, launched by the council this summer, will compile and exchange information on what states are doing to pursue comprehensive changes in such areas as student learning, assessments, teacher training, finance, and governance.

It will also help states reorganize their education departments to make better use of federal and state resources and to provide greater support to school districts to improve student performance.

The initiative is designed to help state leaders take advantage of anticipated changes under the "goals 2000: educate America act'' being considered in Congress and the upcoming reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, both of which would provide states with greater flexibility in the use of federal funds. If passed, goals 2000 would also require every state to develop a systemic-improvement plan.

As part of its effort, the council has conducted a 50-state survey to find out how far along states are on the various aspects of systemic reform, including the development of new curriculum standards and assessments for students.

The council will use the data to help focus its efforts, said John D. McDonald, the coordinator of the project and a former assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education in the Reagan and Bush administrations.

"One of the things we're learning with the survey on systemic education,'' Mr. McDonald said, "is that a lot of states have a lot of the pieces already and are willing to share that information.''

The project stems from the chiefs' yearlong focus on systemic reform, which was the topic of their summer conference in Seattle last week.--L.O.

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