Making State Standards Clearer
Results from the 2007 National Assessment of Educational Progress released last month revealed a rise in test scores since 2005. Gains can be seen in math and reading for both 4th and 8th graders ("NAEP Reading and Math Scores Rise," Education Week, September 25, 2007). Some experts speculate that the implementation of stronger and more grade-specific standards by states and increased efforts to make those standards clearer to educators contributed to the increase ("NAEP Gains: Experts Mull Significance," Education Week, September 28, 2007). This stat of the week examines the number of states that offer resources to help educators better understand and use state standards in English/language arts and mathematics.
In Quality Counts 2007, the EPE Research Center examined whether states offered educators supplementary resources or guides that elaborated on state standards, such as curriculum guides, assessment frameworks, or performance benchmarks, in each of the core subjects. The results of the state policy survey conducted for the report show that an overwhelming majority of states offered those types of resources to educators in both English/language arts and mathematics in the 2006-07 school year. Only 3 statesMississippi, Nevada, and South Dakotadid not offer supplements to standards in either of those subjects. Most states also offered similar resources in science (40 states) and social studies/history (38 states).
These findings help document that states are providing tools to help educators translate state standards into well-targeted instruction. Given that many other education initiatives were implemented over the same period of time, it is difficult to tease out the effect of any one strategy, effort, or reform on changes in student achievement. But more research on the specific types of resources states are providing and when states began making those resources available to educators would help clarify the potential for these policies to have contributed to the recent rise in NAEP scores.