Co-published by the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation and AccountabilityWorks, with support from the Smith Richardson Foundation, this report looks at six elements of K-12 accountability systems in 30 different states. Each state is rated on standards, test content, alignment of tests to standards, test rigor, testing trustworthiness and openness, and accountability policies. The major conclusion: while some states have the basis of a sophisticated and rigorous accountability system in place, no state has every element of a serious standards-based education reform package in place. And few states are as open to evaluation as they ought to be.
Is there any subject as disheveled, distorted and dysfunctional as social studies? As part of our continuing effort to revitalize the subject of social studies, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute offers Effective State Standards for U.S. History: A 2003 Report Card. This groundbreaking and comprehensive state-by-state analysis of K-12 education standards in U.S. history was prepared by Sheldon Stern, historian at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston for more than 20 years. It evaluates U.S. history standards in 48 states and the District of Columbia on comprehensive historical content, sequential development, and balance.
Will the sanctions for failing schools laid out in the politics-governance Act (NCLB) succeed in turning those schools around? This report draws on the results of previous efforts to overhaul failing schools to provide a glimpse at what may be expected from NCLB-style interventions. The results: no intervention strategy has a success rate greater than 50%, so policymakers are urged to consider additional options for children trapped in failing schools.
Minnesota was the first state to embrace many important education reforms, from statewide open enrollment to charter schools to tax credits for parents paying certain education expenses. This report, written by Dr. Mitchell Pearlstein, President of the Minneapolis-based Center of the American Experiment, tells the stories behind Minnesota's unique policy experiences. What lay behind Minnesota's worthy innovations? Who was responsible for the bad ideas? Mitch's short answer: governors were behind most of the proposals that expanded education choice, while the flawed policies emerged from the state's education bureaucracy.
Cizek provides a helpful primer on standardized testing. He identifies key terms, clarifies important distinctions between types of tests, and explains how to interpret (and not to interpret) their scores.
Three Fordham staff members analyze trends spotted in academic standards across the disciplines. They found that too many state standards are vague, anti-knowledge, entranced with 'relevance,' and focused on teaching rather than learning.
In this review of state math standards, authors Raimi and Braden found a disturbing lack of 'mathematical reasoning' in most of the 47 state standards they examined; only three states earned 'A's' while 16 states flunked.
This review of state science standards is the final in our series of reports analyzing state standards in the five core content areas. For this review, author Lawrence S. Lerner analyzed the science standards of 36 states and found that state science standards are the strongest of the five disciplines we studied. Based on his analysis, six states earned 'A' grades, seven earned 'B's,' and only nine flunked.