State Testing Standards under Federal Review

Article excerpt

So far, Delaware and South Carolina had their state standards and assessment requirements under the No Child Left Behind law OK'd by the U.S. Department of Education.

But Oregon and Indiana have to return to the drawing board. And as of mid-April, the other 46 states had yet to have their standards reviewed.

This school year is the first year that the federal government is requiring states to have schools test every student in grades 3 through 8 under NCLB. Prior, states only had to test once in elementary school, once in middle school and once in high school, according to Chad Colby, a department spokesman. South Carolina was already testing in grades 3 through 8 prior to this year, Colby notes.

After states submit the standards and assessments used, external peer reviewers in the education community and the Education Department evaluate each plan.

In Oregon's case, for example, it had failed to meet achievement standards because they were set before academic content standards. "It is essential that the academic achievement standards be developed based on the current grade-level content standards," states Henry L. Johnson, assistant secretary of elementary and secondary education, in a letter to Oregon.

Delaware's plan meets requirements of NCLB in part because it includes alternate achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.

Chattanooga's Choice

Just before No Child Left Behind was signed into law, several elementary schools in the Hamilton County School District in Chattanooga, Tenn. were on the lowest achievement scale, according to Superintendent Jesse Register.

Just before Hamilton merged with the Chattanooga district schools in 1997, the teacher union's conditions had created a "revolving door" in low performing schools where new teachers were leaving after one to three years of service. So administrators worked with the union to create a scenario where high quality teachers were in the most-needed schools. …