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Rating the States

A new database that allows state education leaders to compare their progress on meeting the requirements of the sweeping new federal education law shows that, while states have made strides in setting academic standards, many still have a long way to go in other areas.

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Under the "No Child Left Behind" Act of 2001, states must test students annually in reading and mathematics in grades 3-8, break down test scores by demographic subgroups, and show "adequate yearly progress" by their students.

The online report from the Education Commission of the States, a bipartisan, Denver-based group that works with state education officials and lawmakers, was financed with a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

Kathy Christie, the vice president for information management at the ECS, said the report was designed to enable education leaders to identify areas where their states need to improve. It also offers states an opportunity to learn from one another's strategies for complying with the No Child Left Behind Act, she said.

"Hopefully, this will keep information very transparent and keep everybody in the loop," she said last week.

"We're not trying to be critical," she added. "We're just letting folks know from an impartial observer where we would classify them."

The study evaluates states in areas such as standards and assessments, adequate yearly progress, and teacher quality. Color- coded maps and charts allow states to track their progress.

Coming up with a means for proving adequate progress, the centerpiece of the law, has proved a challenge, the report makes clear.

The ECS rated only 16 states as being "fully on track" toward meeting a determination for adequate yearly progress.

States also varied in how far up to speed they were on meeting a range of other federal requirements.

Nebraska, New Hampshire, and Oregon, for example, were deemed "fully on track" with only three of the 40 federal requirements evaluated. Tennessee, Texas, and Mississippi fared better, having met or nearly met 24 requirements.

—John Gehring

Vol. 22, Issue 22, Page 20

Published in Print: February 12, 2003, as State Journal

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