ERIC Number: ED409606
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1997-Mar
School Reform and Decentralization in the United States: The National Alliance Experience.
Marsh, David D.
In the past 2 decades, the United States has had a more troubled experience in establishing common standards and decentralized authority than comparable school systems in other cultures. This paper describes how the National Center for Education and Economy (NCEE) has been working through the National Alliance (NA) for Restructuring Education to create standards-based systems that support high student performance. The NA approach to systemic reform has been implemented in four major states (Arkansas, Kentucky, Vermont, and Washington) and in five school districts. The paper summarizes outcomes of NA systemic reform at the state, district, and site levels. The findings show that common, systemic, real performance standards aligned with assessment and accountability are essential. The NA experience demonstrates that: (1) Student performance standards must be real; (2) the concept of student performance standards alone is insufficient; (3) viable student performance standards do not get invented from the bottom-up; (4) a single set of student performance standards helps to focus efforts; (5) combined student and school accountability enhances student involvement; and (6) performance assessment must be linked to the standards but must also be valid and reliable. The NA effort to create high-performance management organizations that link systems and local schools has also led to a set of important lessons about school reform: design systemic reform at several organizational levels; district-level reform without state systemic support and alignment was very tough; school leaders reported positive impact of clear and common standards on the school-change process and commitment of school leadership to the process; decentralization of authority enhanced the impact of common standards on classroom practice; and standards-driven reform created a new form of school leadership and change process. Five tables are included. (Contains 33 references.) (LMI)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Chicago, IL, March 24-28, 1997).