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Anticipating Goals 2000 voluntary national standards? A particularly perplexing issue is how to retain sufficient flexibility for schools and teachers within a standards framework. Good teachers often make curricular and instructional decisions. But if standards are too detailed about content, effective teaching strategies that are not easily measured or do not hew closely to content standards could be squeezed out of the curriculum. FOR FURTHER ANALYSIS What criteria should govern development of new state accountability systems for Title I? Should these systems be the same as those being developed under Goals 2000? What is the relationship between national and state standards? What criteria should NESIC consider in certifying standards and assessments? How much variation among states should be allowed in developing standards and assessments under Goals 2000? How can flexibility for different approaches to content and instruction be built into a standards framework at the local, state, and national levels? ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ “All of this federal and state action is irrelevant if no one is checking what is happening in the classroom. What goes on in classrooms has been impervious to the actions of the federal and state levels a good deal of the time. . . .I'd be worried that only those standards which are measurable will find their way into the schools and that experiences which are educational but unable to be measured get excluded —a trip to the museum gets thrown out of the curriculum because nobody knows what to expect from that. . . .Are we going to do anything different this time to make sure that the enacted curriculum in the classroom is in fact compatible with content and performance standards? ” David Berliner ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ STRENGTHENING STATE AND LOCAL CAPACITY THE ISSUE IN BRIEF Implementing standards-based reforms will require expertise at the state and local levels. Teachers will have to be prepared to teach the knowledge and skills embodied in content standards. Universities will have to be conversant with new thinking about content and performance in order to prepare teachers. State agency staff will have to be able to provide
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Anticipating Goals 2000 technical assistance and monitor implementation of standards and assessments. Local school districts will have to adopt the organizational structures, curriculum and assessment support, and other conditions to enable teachers to teach to the standards and students to learn. Communities may need to conduct public awareness programs to help parents understand standards and assessments and their role in supporting their children's learning. What are the capacity implications of the new responsibilities being demanded of states and school districts? What types of governance arrangements can help states meet these responsibilities? The workshop discussion kept returning to these issues. VIEWS FROM THE WORKSHOP States vary widely in their capacity to carry out these ambitious reforms and their will to change. Local capacity is even more variable. Without specific attention to capacity building, states may be divided into those that are ready and able to implement standards and those that are not. The former group would probably include the states that have already embarked on ambitious standards and new assessments —ironically those least likely to need a push from the federal government. State and federal policy makers would be well advised to consider the kinds of procedures and governance structures that will bridge the distance between standards on paper and practices in the classroom. Goals 2000 does not answer these questions. Although each state will have to construct its own capacity-building agenda, some type of national leadership or process would help nudge those states that lack the political will, funding, or expertise to begin. ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ “The states have not waited for national standards. So we won't have one set of anything, we will have 30 sets of them. And we will be able to look at works in progress and be able to have a much richer set of experiences to draw from and lessons to be learned. . . .States may not have the capacity to do a lot of these things, [but] they have the right to. As we are dealing with the sovereign right of states to set certain kinds of things in motion, we have to worry about capacity issues.” Shirley Malcom ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ New Governance Arrangements States need to devise more creative governance models and strategies to influence local behavior but avoid the mistakes of the past, participants suggested.
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Anticipating Goals 2000 States might look for mechanisms that nudge policies in the direction of performance and outcome standards, while seeking more effective and less obtrusive methods of input regulation. These latter methods might include professional self-regulation, peer review, voluntary compliance with standards, and professionally organized technical assistance to low-performing schools. To get from here to there, it may be advisable to reduce input requirements whenever possible and bring existing regulation into conformance with standards. States would shift their focus from regulating inputs to setting performance goals for schools. State monitoring of compliance could be narrower but more intensive, limited only to those process requirements that passed strict review. Equity issues could be addressed through definitions of performance and incentives that would increase access of students to high-quality learning experiences. Schools could be evaluated according to a series of indicators and special studies, and in terms of the value added for students. ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ “Let me create two stereotypes of possible systems. One is the lean, mean performance machine, in which schools are straining to meet public expectations and input constraints are relaxed to free schools to find the right way to educate their kids. . . . The second is the Prussian model, which is captured by the phrase, “That which is not prohibited is required. . . .” It is not clear that standards-based reform leads unerringly in one direction or the other.” Richard Elmore ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ Indirect regulation might be achieved by adopting standards of good practice for instruction, assessment, and other important areas. One suggestion was to create a state board of teachers, teacher educators, and lay people to set professional practice standards and oversee teacher licensing. Other state panels might assume responsibility for developing and administering new assessments. States should make funding available for existing institutions, such as schools of education and professional organizations, to coordinate their policies around standards and implement mutually supportive changes in curriculum and practice. The idea is to change teaching by creating a climate in which good teaching thrives, rather than by controlling instruction. The best teachers could be engaged to lead a renewal effort and train others. Under these strategies, the state would become less a regulator and more of a mobilizer, at the hub of a set of relationships with several government and quasi-governmental entities. It was suggested that the assessment process itself can become a vehicle for professional development and capacity building. Engaging teachers in portfolio assessment, for
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