Goals Panel Approves Plan To Measure Citizenship

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In a move panel members said could boost the teaching of citizenship, the National Education Goals Panel last week adopted a plan for assessing student progress in that field.

The panel of governors, Clinton Administration officials, and members of Congress, which gauges national and state progress toward the six national education goals, also last week approved a recommendation for a core set of data local districts could collect to monitor their own progress toward the goals.

But the panel members, who were meeting in Lincoln, Neb., also noted that the most significant action related to the national goals would take place later the same day 1,500 miles away, in Washington.

There, less than an hour after the panel meeting concluded, U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley unveiled the Administration's school-reform legislation, which would codify the national goals, authorize the goals panel, and authorize the establishment of national standards and a related system of assessments. (See story, page 1.)

"The work of the panel has become the central focus'' of national school-reform efforts, Gov. Roy Romer of Colorado, a panel member, told the gathering in Lincoln.

The citizenship data, which are expected to be included in the panel's forthcoming annual reports, would measure whether the nation is meeting Goal 3, which states that, by 2000, "every school in America will insure that all students learn to use their minds well, so they may be prepared for responsible citizenship.''

The plan calls for the National Assessment of Educational Progress to regularly assess students' knowledge of citizenship, for NAEP and the recipients of federal community-service grants to collect data on the extent of student involvement in community service, and for NAEP and the governors to gather information about the registration of young voters.

Core Data

The panel also recommended support for the development of national standards in citizenship, along the lines of the standards now being developed in core subjects.

Deputy Secretary of Education Madeleine M. Kunin, who represented Mr. Riley at the meeting, said the plan would help instill in young people an "ethic'' of service that could continue after high school. The Clinton Administration has proposed a national-service plan that would encourage high school graduates and college students to participate in service programs, she noted. (See related story, page 18.)

"I don't think you can take an 18-year-old and say, 'Now you are part of the community' if he had not had that ethic from the start,'' Ms. Kunin said.

The proposal for a core set of data for local districts is aimed at insuring that local student-record systems provide comparable information that could also be linked to the national goals reports, panelists said.

Many districts already collect such data, they said, but they are not uniform across districts.

"States and districts that have record-keeping systems now are doing revisions,'' said Wilmer S. Cody, the goals panel's executive director. "One of the purposes [of the core set of data] is to commend to them, as they review, to use common definitions.''

Members noted that the proposal is voluntary for districts, and that it urges that the confidentiality of student records be maintained.

Vol. 12, Issue 31

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