States to Public: Improvement Will Take Time ACHIEVEMENT TESTS

By Gail Russell Chaddock, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, December 1, 1998 | Go to article overview

States to Public: Improvement Will Take Time ACHIEVEMENT TESTS


Gail Russell Chaddock, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


Don't look for questions like "Who's buried in Grant's tomb?" in the latest round of state achievement tests.

After decades of softball exams - where most children scored above average - many states are raising the bar for what students are expected to know and do. And, at least at the beginning, the good news often looks bad.

When 50 percent of Massachusetts 10th-graders failed the state's tough new math test, state officials hailed the results as a historic turning point. At every level except eighth-grade English, most fourth-, eighth-, and 10th-graders failed to reach proficient levels in the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS), in results announced last week. Ten years ago, such results would have sparked a run on the statehouse by angry parents and real-estate agents. But the Bay State took a cue from states that had already weathered dismal first-round assessments, such as Texas, Washington, Oregon, and Colorado. Weeks before releasing the MCAS results, state officials began preparing the public for the low scores - and for the fact that improving them requires a sustained commitment to better content and teaching. "If the first round of scores ... turned out to be high, such as 75 percent demonstrating proficiency, that would tell you that you set the standards too low," says Robert Schwartz, president of Achieve, an independent organization in Cambridge, Mass., created by governors and business leaders in 1996 to advise states on setting higher standards. "The first round tells you just how steep the challenge is. Then, you hope ... that people begin to modify the curriculum, instructional strategies, and professional development. You hope to see a steady upward movement," he adds. Millions spent since 1989 Since the first national education summit in Charlottesville, Va., in 1989, states have spent millions developing new standards for achievement and systems to make sure that schools teach them. The mantra of this new movement: Be clear on what kids should know at each grade level. Use the tests to identify problems, then fix them. Focus the curriculum, mentor the teachers, fire the principal. No excuses. If student achievement doesn't improve, expect even more state intervention. Nearly all states now test student achievement in reading and math, and 28 will have assessments in science and history by 2000. In addition, 19 states now require tests for student promotion or graduation, and 24 have set up sanctions for low-performing school districts, according to Achieve. There have been perils for the pioneers. A poor showing on the first round of tests in some states has fueled calls to scuttle the tests, trash the teachers, or even the public school system. "From 40 to 50 percent {of students} aren't going to meet the new state standards. Of course, there has been some backlash, but there will be a period of rising to those new standards," says Christopher Cross, executive director of the Washington-based Council for Basic Education, which also evaluates state standards. To avoid shooting the messenger, states are learning to prepare the public for bad news. In Washington State, for example, officials warned parents that initial test results would not be good and insisted that they be viewed just as a benchmark for needed progress. Local business leaders also mobilized to support the standards effort. "The easy part is passing the standards legislation. The hard part will be sustaining school improvement over the long haul," says Bill Porter, executive director of the Partnership for Learning, a Seattle-based nonprofit organization of business and community leaders set up to boost academic standards and achievement in public schools. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

States to Public: Improvement Will Take Time ACHIEVEMENT TESTS
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.