State Assessment

When the federal government set forth guidelines for state assessments to evaluate rigorous academic standards, it delineated many uses for the tests.  The U.S. Department of Education funded two consortia to develop state-of-the-art assessments that measure student achievement and increases in learning as well as evaluate the effectiveness of teachers, administrators and schools.

With national initiatives in place to increase educational standards (specifically the No Child Left Behind Act) there comes the inevitable need for progress assessment.  Many class subjects lend themselves well to a more traditional “multiple choice” testing format, but science assessment has struggled to employ this technique effectively.  Science education combines a mixture of rote memorization, which can be tested by traditional methods, with an understanding of the scientific method, problem solving, and deeper scientific inquiry, which are difficult to summarize for the purpose of answering “A, B, C or D”.

Policymakers across the country are facing one of the most challenging sessions in decades, due in large part to the economic woes caused by the Great Recession. From health care reform to the end of funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, here are some of the top issues facing legislators this year according to the policy staff at The Council of State Governments.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, The Council of State Governments calls upon the federal education policymakers to work closely with state and local education officials during NCLB reauthorization to examine how NCLB is working in their communities and where improvements are needed, while maintaining a focus on accountability and standards. At the same time the federal government must live up to its commitment and provide the necessary financial resources to implement the mandates in NCLB by fully funding Title I programs to low-income school districts, Teacher Quality Grants, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers and other important programs under NCLB.
 

CSG South

Every year, states anxiously await the announcement of their students’ performance on the Scholastic Aptitude Test I (SAT), largely because these scores provide a yardstick for measuring progress toward school improvement and for assessing student performance. Alongside state assessments, the SAT often is cited as a benchmark toward the end goal of raising student achievement. But the information provided by SAT scores is more complex than the customary ranking of state composite scores by news organizations and the resulting crowing or hand wringing over high or low results. The SAT, like the other major college entrance exam the ACT, is a self-selecting assessment. Participation is not universal among all students and, indeed, it is generally taken by students who intend to continue to a four-year college. For these reasons, the SAT provides an excellent source of information about how well states compare in preparing students for college-level work in a broad range of contexts. This Regional Resource analyzes results from the 2003 SAT I, with particular attention to how students in various subsets perform compared to their peers in other states and to other subgroups within their state.

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