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ERIC Number: EJ763350
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1539-9664
Hoop Hassles: Incentives, Not National Control
Peyser, James A.
Education Next, v6 n4 p52-55 Fall 2006
There can be little doubt that there is wide variation in the rigor and quality of state standards and assessments. Moreover, it is clear that the vast majority of states have set their academic achievement bar far lower than federal standards, as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Since No Child Left Behind (NCLB) pegs its accountability mechanism to state test results, rather than NAEP, there is a natural incentive for states to maintain or even weaken their already-low standards. If this pattern of behavior persists, much of NCLB's promised educational benefit will be lost. One response to this disappointing reality has been a renewed call for nationalized standards and assessments. But establishing a single set of national standards and assessments would effectively make the federal government the owner and operator of America's public education system. In this article, the author proposes a more incremental approach, one that tries to create greater rigor within the current state-based systems, without ripping them up root and branch. For example, if a district makes Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) based on low state standards (relative to NAEP), it may lose some federal money or be ineligible for certain grant funds, even though it is not technically "in need of improvement" under NCLB. To support this new system, Department of Education (DOE) should fund the development of more-detailed curriculum frameworks (perhaps several different alternatives) and a national test-item bank for interim and annual assessments, all aligned to NAEP standards. States would be free to choose among these frameworks or stick with their own homegrown versions. This approach might lead to more consistent standards over time, but it would do so gradually through incentives, rather than quickly through compulsion. (Contains 1 figure.)
Hoover Institution. Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-6010. Tel: 800-935-2882; Fax: 650-723-8626; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: No Child Left Behind Act 2001