The full policy implications of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for Mathematics and English Language Arts K-12 are just beginning to unfold across the 45 states (and DC) that are working to implement them. The CCSS will impact almost all key state education policies in fundamental ways. As we learned from the 1990-2005 era of systemic state standards-based reform, when academic standards change, so do policies related to student assessment and school accountability.
The 2002 No Child Left Behind Act is the most important legislation in American education since the 1960s. The law requires states to put into place a set of standards together with a comprehensive testing plan designed to ensure these standards are met. Students at schools that fail to meet those standards may leave for other schools, and schools not progressing adequately become subject to reorganization. The significance of the law lies less with federal dollar contributions than with the direction it gives to federal, state, and local school spending.
This study explores whether teachers and students are influenced by the size of the inner-city elementary school to which they belong. Focusing on teachers' attitudes about their responsibility for student learning and students' l-year gains in mathematics achievement scores, we used data from almost 5,000 teachers and 23,000 sixth and eighth-grade students in 264 K-8 Chicago schools. The data were collected through 1997 surveys and annual standardized tests. We employed hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) to estimate school effects.
Data-based decision making has been the mantra of the school reform movement since the late 1980s, but California does not yet have an effective system for collecting and using vital school information. Cali-fornia has taken a number of steps to address this shortcoming. These include the Public School Account-ability Act of 1999 and Senate bills 1453 and 1614, which improve California’s education data system by establishing student and teacher tracking mechanisms.
What will it take to bring about dramatic improvements in the performance of California’s education system? The fact is, we don’t know. California does not now collect the kind of educational data that would allow us to accu-rately measure the performance of schools and students, or to evaluate the effectiveness of different educational policies and practices. We design and implement policies in ways that make it difficult or impossible to identify whether new approaches improve performance or increase learning.
Students’ experiences and the opportunities they have to learn rest on the quality of education decisions made in each class room, in each school, in each district, and in each state, federal legislature, and department of education. Who can run schools? Who can teach? What content is covered? How is it taught? Which students are in each class? When is recess? How much money is spent, on what and on whom? These are just some of the decisions that must be made and whose answers affect students.