Ten Steps to a Better ESEA (with apologies to the Fordham Institute): How to re-authorize ESEA so that it might actually upgrade K-12 education

Sandra Stotsky – As a condition of receiving federal Title I funds, require states to use a set of K-12 standards in mathematics, science, and English that have been judged to be internationally benchmarked by a state-level committee of discipline-based academic experts, chosen by presidents of colleges/universities in the state.

Sandra Stotsky
University of Arkansas
April 23, 2011
 
1. Issue: Standards on which State Tests Are to be Based
Recommendation: As a condition of receiving federal Title I funds, require states to use a set of K-12 standards in mathematics, science, and English that have been judged to be internationally benchmarked by a state-level committee of discipline-based academic experts, chosen by presidents of colleges/universities in the state. 
 
2.  Issue: Teachers’ Academic Competence
Recommendation:  As a condition of receiving federal Title I funds, require states to develop or use licensure tests of subject matter knowledge for prospective K-12 teachers of academic subjects that have been approved by a state-level committee of discipline-based academic experts selected by the presidents of the state’s colleges and universities, as well as by eight parents with professional specializations in the relevant licensure field, selected by Parent Teacher Organizations in the state.
 
3.  Issue:  Biennial Objective Tests in 3-7
Recommendation:  As a condition of receiving federal Title I funds, require states to use at least one objective test, in addition to any others the state chooses to use, to assess students every two years in mathematics and reading, in grades 3, 5, and 7.
 
4.  Issue: Objective Tests at High School Level
Recommendation: As a condition of receiving federal Title I funds, require states to use end-of-course tests for the following subjects, in addition to any others the state chooses to use, to assess students in grade 8, 9, 10, 11, or 12: algebra I, algebra II, geometry, pre-calculus, physics with lab, chemistry with lab, biology with lab, and earth science with lab.  Test content must be  approved by a state-level committee of discipline-based academic experts, chosen by presidents of colleges/universities in the state.  The state board of education will decide which tests and how many tests need to be passed by students for a high school diploma.
 
5.  Issue: Cut Scores
Recommendation: As a condition of receiving federal Title I funds, require states to use cut scores that have been determined for four different performance categories by a state-level committee that includes at least four discipline-based academic experts in the state, chosen by presidents of colleges/universities in the state, as well as four legislators chosen by the governor and eight parents chosen by Parent Teacher Organizations (PTOs) in the state.
 
6.  Issue:  Growth Measures
Recommendation: As a condition of receiving federal Title I funds, require states to use growth measures that include objective tests of academic achievement.
 
7.  Issue:  Science and History Assessments
Recommendation:  As a condition of receiving federal Title I funds, require states to use science and history standards that have been approved by a state-level committee of discipline-based academic experts, chosen by presidents of colleges/universities in the state, together with four legislators chosen by the governor and eight parents chosen by Parent Teacher Organizations (PTOs) in the state.
 
8.   Issue:  School Ratings
Recommendation:  As a condition of receiving federal Title I funds, require states to rate all schools on the extent of progress made in increasing the percentage of students in each of the top three performance categories.  Disaggregated data must be reported on the percentages of students in all four performance categories by gender.  Schools should be also rated on regularly increasing the number and percentage of students passing an authentic Algebra I end-of-course test by the end of grade 8.  Eliminate AYP.
 
9.  Issue:  Alternative High School Curriculum Options
Recommendation:  As a condition of receiving federal Title I funds, require states to ensure that
all grade 8 students have a choice in the four-year high school curriculum they follow (e.g., a high school of performing arts, a high school of foreign languages/humanities study, a high school of mathematics and science, a high school for career/technical education).  To decrease significantly the drop-out rate, choices must be made available to students in grade 8 and begin in grade 9 before the compulsory school-leaving age is reached.  
 
10.  Issue:  Requirements for a High School Diploma
Recommendation: As a condition of receiving federal Title I funds, require states to ensure that all high school students meet the requirements for a high school diploma set by the legislature and state board of education.  Students who choose to attend a four-year career/technical high school must also earn an occupational certificate of their choice for a high school diploma.  
 
 
Brief Biography
Sandra Stotsky is Professor of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas and holds the 21st Century Chair in Teacher Quality.  She served on the Validation Committee for the Common Core State Systemic Initiative (2009-2010), on the National Mathematics Advisory Panel  (2006-2008), on the Steering Committee for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading assessment framework for 2009 (2003-2004), and as editor of Research in the Teaching of English, the research journal sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English (1990-1997).  She currently serves as member of the ERIC Steering Committee for the U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences.  Her most recent work is a national survey of what high school English teachers assign and how they approach literary study, published as FORUM 4 by the Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers (Fall, 2010). She is editor of What’s at Stake in the K-12 Standards Wars: A Primer for Educational Policy Makers (Peter Lang, 2000).  She received a B.A. degree with distinction from the University of Michigan and a doctorate in reading research and reading education with distinction from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Comments


  1. Will Fitzhugh

    Sandra Stotsky, whose book “Losing Our Language” should be required reading for every current and prospective teacher, and anyone else involved in k-12 education, has put forward a strong case for a better ESEA. I am sorry, however, to see History omitted from the required courses and assessments—which here are for math and science—partly because reading history books and writing history research papers are two of the most important steps for students getting ready for college reading and writing tasks.


    • satish

      hiiiiiiiiiiiii


  2. Bob Oliphant

    Top of the line, Sandra! I can’t imagine a clearer presentation of what’s needed and who should be responsible. . . . As far as testing goes, though, I fear what’s available lacks the public, dictionary-based authority of, say, the Scripps Spelling Bee or the New York Times daily crossword puzzle. Authority, calibration, and transparency — this is what parents want from testing boffins, and this is dictionary-based testing will give us.

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April 23rd, 2011

Sandra Stotsky Columnist EducationNews.org

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