All Over the Map
Two words—assessment and accountability—are resonating from the Oval Office and Congress into the offices and classrooms of states, districts, and schools nationwide, as both policymakers and educators work to improve student performance. With accountability as its central theme, the new administration has raised the stakes for educators around the country. In all of the 50 states, however, education reform initiatives encompassing high standards, challenging content, and accountability were already under way when President Bush took the oath of office.
Policy talk in the states had underscored the need for high standards to apply to all students, and that standards- based reform should emphasize high achievement for all children. So President Bush's pledge that "no child will be left behind" has most educators and policymakers nodding in agreement. The question now becomes: How do we make this happen across the country?
The success of standards-based reform as a national policy is inexorably linked to state policy decisions. Many federal education programs of the 1990s were designed to be integrated with, rather than separate from, state and local education reform initiatives. For example, the provisions of the Improving America's Schools Act, the 1994 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, gave states a new, prominent role in Title I. States are expected to establish challenging content and performance standards, implement assessments that measure student performance against these standards, hold schools and school systems accountable for the achievement of all students, and align their Title I programs with these policies. By aligning Title I with state standards-based reform policies, incentives to provide a quality education to poor, low-achieving children are now embedded in state...
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