Assessing the Role of K-12 Academic Standards in States

WORKSHOP SUMMARY

Alexandra Beatty, Rapporteur

Committee on State Standards in Education: A Workshop Series

Center for Education

Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS

Washington, D.C.
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Assessing the Role of K-12 Academic Standards in States WORKSHOP SUMMARY Alexandra Beatty, Rapporteur Committee on State Standards in Education: A Workshop Series Center for Education Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Gov- erning Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engi- neering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This study was supported by a contract between the National Academy of Sci- ences and the James B. Hunt, Jr. Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this pub- lication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project. International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-12035-7 International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-12035-7 Additional copies of this report are available from National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu. Copyright 2008 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America Suggested citation: National Research Council. (2008). Assessing the Role of K-12 Academic Standards in States: Workshop Summary. Alexandra Beatty, Rapporteur. Committee on State Standards in Education: A Workshop Series. Center for Educa- tion, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal govern- ment on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its mem- bers, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advis- ing the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in pro- viding services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org

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COMMITTEE ON STATE STANDARDS IN EDuCATION: A WORkSHOP SERIES LORRAINE MCDONNELL (Chair), Department of Political Science, University of California at Santa Barbara THOMAS B. CORCORAN, Consortium for Policy Research and Education, Teacher’s College, Columbia University ROBERT LINN, Department of Education (emeritus), University of Colorado WILLIAM TATE, Department of Arts and Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis LAURESS WISE, Human Resources Research Organization, Monterey, CA KAREN WIxSON, School of Education, University of Michigan Staff STUART ELLIOTT, Co-Study Director LISA TOWNE, Co-Study Director ALExANDRA BEATTY, Senior Program Officer MARGARET HILTON, Senior Program Officer KELLY DUNCAN, Program Assistant 

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Preface E very state in the United States, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity now has its own aca- demic standards, at least in core subjects. These documents vary in their structure, level of specificity, and other characteristics. Profes- sional societies have also developed standards, in mathematics, English language arts, science, social studies, civics, foreign languages, and other academic subjects, and many states have drawn on these as they prepared their own standards documents. Other organizations have also offered standards and benchmarks. For example, the Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) offers standards developed with the goal of applying a consistent structure and degree of rigor and specificity to standards in diverse subjects (see http://www.mcrel.org/standards- benchmarks/ [April 2008]). This abundance of standards reflects a vigorous response to the call for high standards articulated in the National Commission on Excellence in Education’s 1983 report A Nation at Risk, and it also poses a variety of questions for educators, policy makers, and the public. What role are these standards playing? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the reform efforts that have been anchored by these standards? How are these standards applied, and how might standards-based reforms be improved? Would a move toward national standards in core academic subjects lead to improved instruction and learning? Would it be feasible? The National Research Council (NRC), with support from the James B. Hunt, Jr. Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy (Hunt Institute), ii

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iii PREFACE is sponsoring a set of workshops to examine questions about common and state-specific standards. The Hunt Institute asked the NRC to organize these workshops for the purpose of providing research-based information about the way standards are currently working and the possible advan- tages and disadvantages of alternative approaches. These workshops were planned by the Committee on State Standards in Education, whose membership reflected diverse policy and research perspectives on the issues. This report summarizes the presentations and discussions from the first workshop, held in January 2008, which focused on the current role of standards in the states. As a workshop summary, this report does not reflect the conclusions or judgments of the steering committee, but rather describes the research and perspectives that were presented. The committee identified three components to the charge for the first workshop: a review of the policy and research context in which current standards-based reform efforts are operating, a consideration of how the costs of standards and accountability systems might be calculated, and an analysis of similarities and differences among states’ content and perfor- mance standards. (The second workshop, held in March 2008, addressed possible options for establishing common education standards and the tradeoffs that this course might entail.) This workshop summary has been reviewed in draft form by indi- viduals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the Report Review Committee of the NRC. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its pub- lished report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the process. We thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Martha Darling, consultant, Ann Arbor, MI; Michael W. Kirst, School of Education, Stanford University; Peter McWalters, Elementary and Secondary Education, Rhode Island Depart- ment of Education; and Barbara Reys, Learning Teaching and Curriculum, University of Missouri. Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the content of the report nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Diana C. Pullin, School of Education, Boston College. Appointed by the NRC, she was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the author and the institution.

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ix PREFACE The committee would also like to thank the co-study directors for this project, Stuart Elliott and Lisa Towne, for their leadership throughout; Margaret Hilton for her help in planning and organizing the workshop; Alix Beatty for drafting the report; and Kelly Duncan for excellent logisti- cal support. We also gratefully acknowledge the contributions of report editor Genie Grohman and report review officer Kirsten Sampson-Snyder. Last, but not least, the committee extends sincere thanks to Judith Rizzo and her colleagues at the Hunt Institute for their support and advice throughout the process. Lorraine McDonnell, Chair Committee on State Standards in Education: A Workshop Series

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Contents 1 POLICY CONTExT 1 View from the States, 2 Equity, 4 Capacity, 5 Quality, 6 Current Standards: Overview, 7 2 ESTIMATING COSTS 9 Cost Estimation Framework, 10 Applying the Framework in Three States, 12 3 ANALYZING STATE STANDARDS 17 Variability in State Content Standards, 18 Variability in State Assessments, 23 Variability in State Performance Standards, 27 4 WRAP-UP AND NExT STEPS 33 Variability of Standards, 33 Costs, 34 Questions for the Next Workshop, 35 Concluding Thoughts, 35 REFERENCES 37 APPENDIx: WORKSHOP AGENDA AND PARTICIPANTS 39 xi

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