While the idea of national standards has been widely supported, many respected educators doubt their value from fear that such standards will institutionalize the lowest common denominator. Others cite the poor performance of U.S. students on international tests and insist that the U.S. will suffer because of this poor performance. The debate becomes even more intense when the question of assessment is posed. Is it possible to develop a national examination system tied to new standards? Should such tests be used to influence entry to colleges and jobs? Would the motivation of students to learn be increased if they knew that their performance would be reviewed by colleges and employers? Is it fair to set standards for students without setting standards for schools?
To address these and other questions, this book, the result of a Brookings conference, brings together representatives of various viewpoints on the utility and equity of increasing the use of tests for students, teachers, and schools.
The contributors are Chester Finn, Jr., the Edison Project; Daniel Koretz, RAND; Andrew Porter, Wisconsin Center for Education Research; Lauren Resnick, University of Pittsburgh; Roy Romer, Governor of Colorado; Albert Shanker, American Federation of Teachers; Theodore R. Sizer, Brown University; Marshall C. Smith, U.S. Department of Education; and Donald M. Stewart, The College Board.
Brookings Dialogues on Public Policy
Contributors provide compelling portraits of classrooms, teachers, and students in elementary, middle, and high schools through case studies and examples from intensive research in four locations: Chicago, El Paso, Memphis, and Miami. They interviewed, observed, and gathered information from district administrators, school principals, teachers, students and their parents, and community members. The book provides valuable insight into how systemic reform works, offers suggestions regarding assessment of successful learning environments, and addresses the need for intensive, long-term professional development for the purpose of engaging teachers with their colleagues in communities of practice supported by a strong school culture.
"History of Urban Education in this Century" by Jeffrey Mirel, Emory University "School Reform in Chicago" by Anthony Bryk, University of Chicago "Lessons from Houston" by Donald McAdams, Houston Independent School Board "Problems of Managing a Big-City School System" by Stanley Litow, IBM Corporation "Single-Sex Schooling: Law, Policy, and Research" by Rosemary C. Salomone, St. John's University School of Law "How Litigation Has Undermined Schools" by Abigail Thernstrom, Manhattan Institute/Massachusetts Board of Education "Creating Successful Urban Schools" by James Comer, Yale Child Study Center "Voucher Experiments" by Paul Peterson, Harvard University "Proposed Reforms of Governance" by Paul Hill, University of Washington
Coulson explores the educational problems facing parents and shows how these problems can best be addressed. He begins with a discussion of what people want from their school systems, tracing their views of the kinds of knowledge, skills, and values education should impart, and their concerns over discipline, drugs, and violence in public schools. Using this survey of goals and attitudes as a guide, Coulson sets out to compare the school systems of civilizations both ancient and modern, seeking to determine which systems successfully educated generations past and which did not. His historical study ranges from classical Greece and ancient Rome, through the Islamic world of the Middle Ages, to nineteenth-century England and modern America.
Drawing on the historical evidence of how these various systems operated, Coulson concludes that free educational markets have consistently done a better job of serving the public's needs than state-run school systems have. He sets out a blueprint for competitive, free-market educational reform that would make schools more flexible, more innovative, and more responsive to the needs of parents and students. He describes how education for low-income children might be funded under a market system, and how the transition from monopolistic public education to market education might be achieved.
Coulson's Market Education touches on a wide range of issues, including declines in academic achievement, minority education, the role of public school teachers, and mismanagement and corruption in educational bureaucracies. Coulson examines alternative reform proposals from vouchers and charter schools to national standards for school curricula. This timely and engaging book will appeal to parents, educators, and others concerned with the quality and cost of schooling, and will serve as an excellent resource in college courses on the economics and history of education.