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NCLB Outrages

Education standards, test scores linked

Ohanian Comment: With NCLB on the ropes, we can expect a flood of articles extolling NAEP. It's what the corporate politicos wanted all along: A national test tied to national standards.

Be Warned:
⢠How Does NAEP Label a Reader "Proficient?" An Inside Look at Childrenâs Responses Labeled Inadequate

⢠Who's Who and What's What: A Scoring Guide for NAEP, the Outfit Claiming to be The Nation's Report Card
See whoâs behind the huge corporate-politico push to make
NAEP the nation's test, pushing a national curriculum.

By Staci Hupp

Five states that made bigger strides than Iowa on national test scores had much tougher standards for what children should learn in school, according to a new study.

"It's a huge flag that's not a surprise to anybody," said Mary Delagardelle of the Iowa School Boards Foundation, which wrote the study. "Minimal expectations ... aren't enough for our kids."

Researchers shared the findings Wednesday with business leaders and educators on the Institute for Tomorrow's Workforce, a state advisory panel.

Iowa's ranking has slipped on parts of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the only state-by-state comparison of student progress. In fourth-grade math, Iowa slipped from second in 1992 to 16th last year.

The study pinpointed five states that have boosted scores on the national test.

Delaware, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York and Virginia had significantly tougher state standards and accountability policies.

Those states also did a better job of reaching poor and minority children, who statistically are harder to teach.

"It's an aspirational challenge, not an alarm bell," said Max Phillips, a Des Moines businessman who is co-chairman of the education panel. "We really do need to push each other.

Iowa has started down the road to recovery. A new law requires a state core curriculum for school districts, many of which lacked challenging standards of their own.

State education officials say the state blueprint will add the rigor that's been missing.

Delagardelle said the state also needs to develop tougher tests that measure children's critical thinking skills.

Right now, a test question for an Iowa fourth-grader might include a short story with a multiple-choice question that asks what the story was about.

In Delaware, fourth-graders would read the same short story and write a short essay about whether they agree with the story's premise.

The Iowa School Boards Foundation is the research arm of the state school boards association. Delagardelle said the foundation was not paid to draw up the study.

— Staci Hupp
Des Moines Register


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