NEPC Resources on Standards-Based Reform
NEPC Review: Lessons From State Performance on NAEP: Why Some High-Poverty Students Score Better Than Others
A Policy Memo by NEPC Director Kevin Welner
Kevin Welner provides a commentary on this morning’s release of results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The lower grades on the Nation’s Report Card are not good news for anyone, but they are particularly bad news for those who have been vigorously advocating for “no excuses” approaches — standards-based testing and accountability policies like No Child Left Behind.
As currently used, the Common Core will almost certainly exacerbate the policy failures of the past decade. The focus is on accountability, not on providing supports and resources to students and their teachers. This linking of Common Core to accountability regimes is a feature, not a bug -- it is what was intended from the outset. When politicians opt for accountability policies and market-based privatization policies, they supersede policies that are grounded in best practices -- evidence-based reforms that have succeeded in enhancing opportunities to learn.
Research-Based Options for Education Policymaking is a 10-part brief that takes up important policy issues and identifies policies supported by research. Each section focuses on a different issue, and its recommendations for policymakers are based on the latest scholarship.
This brief discusses how three recent popular educational reform policies move teaching towards or away from professionalization. These reforms are (1) policies that evaluate teachers based on students’ annual standardized test score gains, and specifically, those based on value-added assessment; (2) fast-track teacher preparation and licensure; and (3) scripted, narrowed curricula. These particular policy reforms are considered because of their contemporary prominence and the fact that they directly influence the way teaching is perceived.
Democratic policymaking and democratic education have been undermined by the passage of No Child Left Behind. This brief offers guidelines for future federal education policy that addresses the loss of local control brought on by recent reforms.
A video of Howe and Meens discussing the policy brief is available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_OODyDYi8Y.
The Obama administration advocates for education standards designed to make all high school graduates "college- and career-ready." To achieve this end, the administration is exerting pressure on states to adopt content standards, known as the "common core," being developed by the National Governors' Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers (NGA/CCSSO). The administration has, for example, called for federal Title I aid to be withheld from states that do not adopt these or comparable standards.
This year’s Bracey Report identifies and discusses the research support for what the author considers to be three of the most important assumptions about how to reform public education: 1. High-quality schools can eliminate the achievement gap between whites and minorities. 2. Mayoral control of public schools is an improvement over the more common elected board governance systems. 3. Higher standards will improve the performance of public schools.
The successor to No Child Left Behind remains to be shaped, but one change seems certain: School success will depend on whether students’ test scores increase, as opposed to just requiring scores above an adequate yearly progress threshold. Growth modeling approaches appear to allow for this policy shift. And this would likely be an improvement over the AYP approach in the current NCLB. Yet like many new technologies, it’s being oversold.
This policy brief examines the recent wave of commission reports that have attacked the American high school and called for its "reinvention." Two conceptions of rigor are dominant: test-based rigor, requiring higher scores on conventional tests; and course-based rigor, requiring more demanding courses. However, these conventional academic conceptions neglect several other conceptions of rigor: as depth rather than breadth; as more sophisticated levels of understanding including "higher-order skills"; and as the ability to apply learning in unfamiliar settings.
Institution: Lewis and Clark College
The author argues that both schools and businesses are vulnerable to the same negative outcomes when management values profits over individuals.
Publisher Educational Researcher, 23(8)
Page Numbers 27-33
Publisher Applied Psychological Measurement, 4
Page Numbers 447-467
Publisher Itasca, IL: F.E. Peacock Publishers