States need to strike a better balance among academic standards, testing, and the tools that students and schools need to succeed, an Education Week report to be released this week concludes.
Quality Counts 2001: A Better Balance, the fifth annual edition of the newspaper’s 50-state report card on public education, focuses on how state efforts to raise standards are playing out in classrooms. The 194-page report, which was supported with a grant from the Philadelphia-based Pew Charitable Trusts, was scheduled for release Jan. 10 at a press conference in Washington.
Included are the results from a new national poll of public school teachers. The poll found that a vast majority of teachers believe the push to raise academic standards is headed in the right direction. A majority of teachers also reported that the curriculum is more demanding than it was three years ago, and that students are working harder, in part because of state standards.
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|The report, Quality Counts 2001: A Better Balance, is now available from Education Week on the Web.|
But teachers also said that states are placing too much emphasis on state tests to drive changes in instruction.
In addition, Education Week‘s review of state policies found that states may be rushing to hold students and schools accountable for results without providing the essential support to meet higher expectations. And state standards and assessments, the report suggests, are still not good enough—a particular concern given the high stakes now attached to test results.
Payoff and Pressures
“For more than a decade, states have been engaged in an unprecedented effort to raise academic expectations for all students,” said Virginia B. Edwards, the editor of Quality Counts 2001 and Education Week. “That effort is beginning to pay off where it counts: in the classroom. Our concern is that unless states balance the pressures they’re now putting on schools and students with the training and materials needed to do the job, their high expectations won’t be realized. And public support for public education, in general, could be undermined.”
Quality Counts 2001 also updates report cards on each of the 50 states, begun in 1997, and provides summaries of recent education- related policies for all 50. The report provides updated information for most of the indicators used to gauge the health of each state’s education system.
Education Week subscribers will receive their copies of the report, dated Jan. 11, by mail.
A version of this article appeared in the January 10, 2001 edition of Education Week as Quality Counts Explores Standards In the Classroom