federal government no longer desires to play a primarily financial role in education, leaving states and local governments to design and implement policy. It wants to influence the way schools operate in a fundamental way and is, consequently, a very strong advocate for state-run, systemic, standards-based reforms. Through new provisions in Title I, all schools that receive these funds are required to use the same standards and assessments in measuring the progress of students in Title I programs. This change could be very beneficial for economically disadvantaged and minority youths because it means that they will have access to a challenging curriculum and that their teachers and administrators will be held accountable for their achievement. The potential negative is that high-stakes testing could hurt these students if they are not provided the support necessary to meet the higher standards.
Finally, the federal government has begun to move away from categorical programs. The provision allowing waivers from some of the rules and regulations of categorical programs in the reauthorized ESEA is a response to decades of complaints about the confining regulations that prohibit local administrators from designing programs that work in the best interest of their students. This change is beneficial only if local administrators are able to creatively construct programs that meet the needs of students. Removal of some of the categorical strings may help the more creative administrators implement better programs, which would, ultimately, benefit all youth.
Standards-based reform is relatively new. States only began receiving planning grants for systemic reform in 1994-1995. Ultimately, whether it will truly bring about increased academic achievement for all students is yet to be determined. However, much of its success depends on how well states and LEAs adhere to all the objectives and principles of Goals 2000 and the 1994 reauthorization of ESEA. That is, states and local education agencies must embrace not only goals related to developing challenging standards, assessments and accountability systems, but also goals focused on effective and appropriate professional development, and the involvement of students' families and communities in the schooling process. Only through such a comprehensive approach can the needs of poor and minority students be met.
Archibald D. ( 1998). The reviews of state content standards in English language arts and mathematics: A summary and review of their methods and findings and implications for future standards development. (Report No. ED-98-PO-2038). Paper commissioned by the National Education Goals Panel.