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Appendix D Current Projects on Indicators The report of the National Commission on Excellence in Educa- tion (1983), the report of the National Science Board Commission on Precollege Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education (1983), and other recent national reports found that better information is needed on the status of education in American schools and recom- mended that better indicators be developed for measuring change in the quality of education. The committee's first report (Raizen and Jones, 1985) provided an analysis of the current state of indicators for assessing precollege science and mathematics education, and that report reviewed existing data-collection efforts that may contribute to indicators. The report also highlighted the kinds of data and in- formation that should be available to policy makers, but often are not. Since that report was completed, a number of studies and activi- ties have begun at the national level to fill the gaps and inadequacies in indicators of science and mathematics education. Many of these studies and activities are proceeding or being completed as the com- mittee is writing this report, and since many of the findings and recommendations are likely to complement this report, the objec- tives, designs, and potential findings of these studies and activities are outlined below. 197
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198 APPENDIX D Development of Indicators from Existing Research arid Data Bases A new synthesis of information was created in direct response to the report of the National Science Board Commission. The board decided to include a chapter on science education in its biennial Sci- ence indicators report to Congress. The chapter included in the 1985 Science Indicators report (National Science Board, 1985) provides a review of available data that can be used to monitor and assess the quality of science education, such as academic performance of stu- dents, academic standards for science and mathematics, adequacy of the curriculum, and qualifications and supply of teachers. The chapter also identifies some problems in answering questions about the quality of science and mathematics education that derive from the failings of existing indicators. The U.S. Department of Education (1985) also responded to the expressed need for indicators by developing a new report, "Indicators of Education Status and Trends," which was released in 1985. This report identifies 20 indicators for measuring the quality of schooling, using existing national data. Department of Education staff worked with a consortium of 20 national education organizations to select in- dicators in three categories outcomes, resources, and context- that would provide the most meaningful and useful measures of educa- tional quality in elementary and secondary schools. More recently, the department released a briefer version (U.S. Department of Ed- ucation, 1987) containing 17 indicators derived from existing data bases and research studies. The definition of an education indicator, as given in the department's first report, has been frequently cited in other studies and activities on indicators. A study report by the Rand Corporation (Shavelson et al., 1987) for the National Science Foundation is concerned with the design of a national indicator system for monitoring science and mathematics education. The two major objectives of the study were, first, to consider the benefits of alternative monitoring systems and, second, to determine the feasibility and cost of each alternative system. The study report incorporates findings and recommendations on indicators from the committee's first report as well as recent research and data collection that would contribute to a monitoring system. The Educational Testing Service is conducting a study for the National Science Foundation to determine the possibility of devel- oping a comprehensive unified data base for science education indica
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APPENDIX D 199 tors. The goal of the project is a single data base that will provide current information on the number and quality of students in science and engineering at several stages in their development. The plan is to integrate data from about 25 existing large data bases that have information on demographic characteristics and educational achievement of precollege and college students, such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SATs), the High School-and-Beyond Longitudinal Survey, and the Graduate Record Examinations. The integrated data base would be updated annually to provide the capacity for analyses of the status of students in science and engineering from one year to the next. The comprehensive data base would allow the National Science Founda- tion to answer regularly such questions as the change in quantitative ability of high school seniors from year to year, the expected number of graduates planning to enroll in college science majors, or the sci- ence achievement of specific groups of minority students planning to enter teaching. A study recently completed by the Center for the Study of EvaTu- ation at the University of California, Los Angeles (Burstein et al., no date) explored the feasibility of using existing data collected by the states to construct education indicators. The study was conducted for the U.S. Department of Education in response to questions about using state testing data for state-by-state comparisons of student performance at the national level. The goal of the study was to examine methodological and implementation issues in aggregating data from state testing programs and then to recommend ways of facilitating their use on a national basis. The study included anal- yses of the current state testing programs, discussion of alternative approaches to linking test results across states to create a common scale, and assessment of the availability of information about schools and students that could be used to construct more valid indicators of achievement. The Center for Policy Research in Education, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, conducts research on state and local edu- cation policy in order to foster educational improvement. The center recently published a guide to indicators (Oakes, 1986) designed to ac- quaint policy makers with the development, interpretation, and use of education statistics. Topics covered include definition and types of indicators, the use of indicators, indicators in a policy context, and state of the indicator art.
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200 APPENDIX D In response to states' interests in better indicators of education, the Council of Chief State School Officers has created a state edu- cation assessment center to develop and coordinate an educational indicators system for use by all the states. The center will work with states to develop a common set of indicators, including selection of indicators, identification and improvement of existing data gathered by states, and design of new data bases when necessary. Indicators will be developed in three areas: (1) the context in which educa- tion takes place, including the demographics of the population, the resources available, and student descriptors; (2) educational policies and practices, including amount and use of instructional time, the in- structional program, preparation and characteristics of teachers, the allocation of resources, and policies on school participation; and (3) educational outcomes, including student achievement, attendance, school completion, and post-school outcomes and attitudes. A spe- cial task force, supported by the National Science Foundation, is working on state science and mathematics indicators. The commit- tee has worked closely with the assessment center staff in ensuring that the interests and needs of states for improved indicators are reflected in this report. Studies to Improve Basic Data Collection Another study of the National Research Council concerns statis- tics on supply and demand for precollege science and mathematics teachers. The pane! of experts conducting the study was selected in consultation with the Committee on National Statistics and this committee. The panel is currently evaluating models used at na- tional and state levels for estimating and projecting teacher supply and demand; it is also assessing the measures of teacher qualifications used in these models. The goals of the study are to develop a method for constructing a national profile of teachers, to recommend fur- ther data collection necessary to provide more adequate information on teacher supply and demand at national and state levels, and to outline improved models for projecting teacher supply and demand and estimating effects of alternative policies. An interim report is available (Pane! on Statistics on Supply and Demand for Precollege Science and Mathematics Teachers, 1987~.
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APPENDIX D 201 The Center for Education Statistics, in the reorganized Office of Educational Research and Improvement of the UeSe Department of Education, has initiated several studies to improve basic data collection activities. In response to the need for better information on the characteristics of the teaching force in elementary and secondary schools, a study is being carried out by the Rand Corporation to redesign existing surveys concerning teachers. The redesign effort has the goal of providing better estimates of teacher supply and demanct as well as better information on qualifications of teachers, job characteristics, and conditions for teaching. A pilot study of the new design, which will include surveys at the teacher, school, and district levels, was conducted in 1986, with full implementation scheduled for 1987. The redesign of data collection on teachers may contribute to a plan for revising the Center for Education Statistics' collection of data on elementary and secondary education. Among other pro- posed new data collection activities are new assessments of cognitive learning of students at several grade levels. A new long-term study of the educational performance and occupational attainment of a national sample of students, the National Education Longitudinal Study (NELS), will begin in 1988. The Center for Education Statistics is also working with the Council of Chief State School Officers to ensure that the common core of data reported by school systems to the states and by the states to the center is accurate and timely. The goals are to describe state collection of data elements currently contained in the common core of data, to consider and describe what elements might be added, and to recommend means for making the common core of data more comprehensive, comparable, and timely. Because of the general dissatisfaction with current achievement tests, the National Science Foundation supported a project at the Educational Testing Service to develop better measures for assess- ing student knowledge and performance in science. A manual has been published for science and mathematics coordinators and teach- ers on exercises designed for hands-on assessment of such skills as classifying, observing and making inferences, formulating hypothe- ses, interpreting data, designing an experiment, and conducting a complete experiment (National Assessment of Educational Progress, 1987~.
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202 APPENDIX D New Survey Data Applicable to Indicators Several surveys being completed during the same period as this study will provide new data relevant to indicators of precollege sci- ence and mathematics education. A national survey of science and mathematics education is currently being conducted by the Research Triangle Institute with funding from the National Science Founda- tion. This survey of teachers and principals will produce nationally representative data on the condition of science and mathematics education in elementary and secondary schools. Included in the sur- vey are questions on course offerings and enrollments, availability of facilities and equipment, instructional techniques, textbook usage, teacher background, and needs for in-service education. Since the survey will provide follow-up data to a similar 1977 survey, analy- sis of trends in science and mathematics education during the last decade will be possible. New sources of data on teachers in elementary and secondary schools will be available from three studies supported by the Depart- ment of Education. First, the 1985 Public School Survey conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (now the Center for Education Statistics) focused on the status and characteristics of public school teachers. A nationally representative sample of ap- proximately 10,750 teachers and 2,800 school administrators was surveyed through mall questionnaires. The teachers were asked for information on their teaching activities, background and experience, conditions for teaching, specific teaching practices (e.g., homework assigned), salary level, and work outside teaching. The adminis- trator questionnaire asked for information on school characteristics, staffing, teacher incentive plans, and conditions for teaching. Special analyses of science and mathematics teachers will be possible with the data. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) for the 1985-1986 school year included an assessment of science knowI- edge for students in grades three, seven, and eleven. A new feature of the 1985-1986 NAEP is a survey of the teachers of students in the assessment sample. The objective is to gather information on teachers' training and experience, classroom conditions, and teach- ing practices. The results will provide a new source of information on science in elementary and secondary schools. The Department of Education is also supporting the fifth follow- up survey for the National Longitudinal Study of the senior class of
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APPENDIX D 203 1972. This is the first follow-up that will include a special survey sup- plement for persons in the sample who are teachers or former teach- ers. This teacher supplement, partially supported by the National Science Foundation, will provide information on career patterns and decisions related to the teaching profession. Another project that will provide data for indicators is the School Mathematics Monitoring Center, established at the University of Wisconsin with the support of the National Science Foundation. This center is collecting, analyzing, and reporting data on key indicators of change in mathematics instruction and performance. A major purpose of the center is to analyze the response of schools to current reform efforts and their progress in improving mathematics education over the coming years. Center products will include a data retrieval system that will be available to the National Science Foundation (NSF) and to other federal and state agencies and a report to NSF on the status of mathematics education in the United States. Efforts to Develop Indicators of the Quality of Curriculum One response of professional science associations to the need for better indicators of science and mathematics education has been to work on new standards for curriculum and instruction. A major long-term project, Project 2061, has been initiated by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to define essen- tial learning in science and mathematics that should be attained by all high school graduates. AAAS is working with panels of scientists, mathematicians, and educators to establish the core elements of sci- ence and mathematics that should be learned in school and where in the curriculum and at what age levels these elements should be taught. Several professional associations have developed goals for im- proving curriculum and instruction in specific subject areas. For ex- ample, a special committee of the American Chemical Society (1984) developed a set of recommendations and guidelines for quality chem- istry education programs at the high school and college levels. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (1980, 1981a, 1981b) has recommended actions for improving the quality of education in mathematics, and the National Science Teachers Association (1983) has established standards for preparation and certification of teachers in science for kindergarten through grade 12. These recommenda- tions from professional associations can provide a basis for schools,
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204 APPENDIX D districts, or states to measure the quality of their programs in science or mathematics. Another approach to improving assessment of the quality of cur- riculum and instruction in science and mathematics has been to develop "frameworks" for curriculum content. Some states, such as South Carolina and California, have developed frameworks for sci- ence for specific grades and courses. These frameworks have been de- veloped in conjunction with efforts to develop statewide competency examinations to assess student learning. A curriculum framework defines the core concepts to be learned by each student and, thus, can be used as a standard for assessing the curriculum and program of a school in a given subject area. REFERENCES American Chemical Society 1984 Tomorrow: The Report of the Task Force for the Study of Chemistry Education in the United States. Washington, D.C.: American Chemical Society. Burstein, Leigh, Baker, Eva L., and Keesling, Ward J. No Using State Test Data for National Indicators of Educational date Quality: A Feasibility Study. Final Report. Available from the Center for the Study of Evaluation, University of California, Los Angeles. National Assessment of Educational Progress 1987 Learning by Doing. Princeton, N.J.: Educational Testing Service. National Commission on Excellence in Education 1983 A Nation At Risk: Thc Imperative for Educational Reform. Supt. Of Doe. No. 065-000-00204-3. Available from the U.S. Govern- ment Printing Office. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics 1980 An Agenda for Action Reston, Va.: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Guidelines for the Preparation of Teachers of Mathematics. Prepared by the Commission on the Education of Teachers of Mathematics. Reston, Va.: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Priorities in School Mathematics. Reston, Va.: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. National Science Board 1985 Scicnec Indicators: Thc 1985 Report. NSB 85-1. Washington, D.C.: National Science Foundation. National Science Board Commission on Precollege Education in Science, Math ematics, and Technology 1983 Educating Amcmcan~ for the At Ccrltury. Washington, D.C.: Na- tional Science Foundation. 1981a 1981b
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APPENDIX D 20S National Science Teachers Association 1983 Recommended Standards for the Preparation and Certification of Tcach- crs of Scicnec at the Elemcntary and Middlc/Junior High School Leocl`. Washington, D.C.: National Science Teachers Association. Oakes, Jeannie 1986 Educational Indicators: A Guide for Policymaler~. OPE-01. Santa Monica, Calif.: Rand Corporation. Panel on Statistics on Supply and Demand for Precollege Science and Mathe matics Teachers 1987 Toward Understanding Teachers Supply and Demand: Priorities for Research and Dcoclopmcnt. Interim Report. Available from the Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Ralsen, Senta A., and Jones, Lyle V., eds. 1985 Indicators of Precollege Education in Scicnec and Mathematics. A Prc- liminary Review. Committee on Indicators of Precollege Science and Mathematics Education, National Research Council. Wash- ington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Shavelson, Richard, McDonnell, Lorraine, Oakes, Jeannie, and Carey, Neil 1987 Indicator Systems for Monitoring Mathematics and Scicnec Education. R-357D-NSF. Santa Monica, Calif.: Rand Corporation. U.S. Department of Education 1985 Indicators of Education Status and Winds. Washington, D.C.: U.S. 1987 Department of Education. Elemcntary and Secondary Education Indicators in Brief. IS 87-106. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education.
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