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Chiefs' Report Tracks State Reform Efforts

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Most states are turning to standards-based reforms to achieve systemic improvement of education, according to a new report outlining state education initiatives.

The report, issued this month by the Washington-based Council of Chief State School Officers, reports that systemic-improvement plans in 47 states include the development of content standards in such subjects as mathematics, English, and social studies.

Nebraska and Florida reported that they are working on content standards, but these efforts are not exclusively part of either state's systemic-improvement plan. Data from Mississippi were not available.

Student-performance standards are being constructed or are in place in 38 states.

The report reflects the fact that state leaders are turning their long-standing interest in standards into policy, said John T. MacDonald, the director of the ccsso's State Leadership Center, which compiled the report.

"The fact of the matter is, states have been at this for a long time," said Mr. MacDonald, a former New Hampshire commissioner of education.

Other Improvement Plans

Forty-six states also reported that their systemic initiatives included efforts to coordinate student and family services and to build public support for education reform.

The report also says that 41 states are creating or implementing plans to reorganize the state education agency. And 37 states are aiming to link emerging technologies with classroom instruction.

Other improvement plans focus on the teacher's role in preparing policy, in 45 states, and student assessments, in 47 states.

The council published the survey as a guide for states drafting and implementing education-improvement plans as part of the Goals 2000: Educate America Act. Oregon, Kentucky, Utah, and Massachusetts have received U.S. Department of Education approval of their Goals 2000 plans. An additional 30 states should have plans ready for consideration in the next six months, the report says.

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