about (1) learning or performance levels to be attained and (2) resource levels likely to permit schools to accomplish these learning purposes with students. This section is concerned principally with the first of these policy objectives, determining what students should know and be able to do. Only by specifying such an objective can calculations be undertaken to facilitate the second objective, specifying that the resource level involved is sufficient.

Specifying learning is difficult, more difficult than it first appears. While we have an apparent national consensus that student outcomes are currently inadequate, this consensus extends only to the vaguest of generalities when it comes to specifying the extent to which this is the case.

Consider one of the early attempts by a state court to define adequate outcomes, that of the West Virginia Supreme Court in Pauley v. Kelly in 1979. The Court required the legislature to fund a school system that would develop "in every child" these capacities; see Box 7-1.

Other state courts and legislatures have required funding adequate to develop similar collections of competencies; in at least one case (Kentucky, in Rose v. Council for Better Education, 1989) an additional, relative, capacity was added: "sufficient levels of academic or vocational skills to enable public school students to compete favorably with their counterparts in surrounding states."

The Wyoming Supreme Court (in Campbell County v. The State of Wyoming , 1995) required resources sufficient to provide each student with a "proper education," and the legislature subsequently defined a basket of education goods

BOX 7-1 West Virginia Supreme Court Definition of an Adequate Education

SOURCE: Pauley v. Kelly, 255 S.E. 2nd 859 (W.V., 1979).






ability to add, subtract, multiply and divide numbers;



knowledge of government to the extent that the child will be equipped as a citizen to make informed choices among persons and issues that affect his own governance;



self-knowledge and knowledge of his or her total environment to allow the child to intelligently choose life work—to know his or her options;



work-training and advanced academic training as he child may intelligently choose;



recreational pursuits;



interests in all creative arts, such as music, theater, literature, and the visual arts;



social ethics, both behavioral and abstract, to facilitate compatibility with others in this society.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement