ACADEMIC REPORT State's standards advance curricula

Ohio is on the right track, the report says.
WASHINGTON -- Ohio is developing a new academic standards system, and it appears that it will be a solid, coherent standards-based system, according to the American Federation of Teachers' sixth report on state efforts to implement standard-based systems.
This year's report shows that states have made tremendous progress in setting standards since the AFT first began reviewing standards in 1995, but no state has a fully developed standards-based system.
"Making Standards Matter 2001" analyzes states' standards, curricula, tests and accountability measures for English, math, science and social studies at the elementary, middle and high school levels. The report details the need for states to develop curriculum, to align their tests to the standards and to provide assistance to students who fail to meet the standards.
"If we don't improve on what has been started, we run the risk of undermining support for the movement for higher standards," said AFT President Sandra Feldman.
New standards: Ohio is writing new standards for English, math, science and social studies. The English and math standards, currently available for review, are clear and specific at all grade levels. Science and social studies standards won't be finalized until December 2002. Once the new standards are in place, Ohio education officials say new tests and curriculum materials will be developed in the four subject areas.
New accountability policies also will be implemented, including a promotion policy, high school exit exam, and required, state-funded help for students struggling to meet the new standards.
"Ohio is on the right track as they begin to develop a new coherent, comprehensive standards-based system," said Heidi Glidden, author of the AFT report.
Among the findings for this year's report:
UStandards: Twenty-nine states and Washington, D.C., have generally clear and specific standards for English, math, science and social studies, up from 22 in 1999.
UCohesive standards-based system: No state or Washington, D.C., has a cohesive standards-based system that links tests, curriculum and accountability measures to quality standards.
UAssessments: Twenty-eight states test students in all of four core subjects at least once at the elementary, middle and high school levels -- up from 25 in 1999. However, while every state asserts that its tests are linked to its standards, only eight states can actually document that they have aligned tests in the four core subjects at all three grade levels.
UAccountability: Twenty-four states and Washington, D.C., require and fund intervention for students having trouble meeting standards -- down three from 1999.
Congress is in the final stages of mandating that states test all students in grades three through eight in both reading and math and apply sanctions to schools where students fail to progress satisfactorily. Feldman said this adds to the urgency for states to develop tests based on quality standards.

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