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American Educator
Spring 2005


Table of Contents

Getting It Right: Standards-Based Reform and Accountability

Keeping Score
Why Standards and Accountability—Done Right—Are Good for Schools, Teachers, and Kids
By John Cole

When we "keep score," whether in sports, business, or education, we have to face up to failure—and do what's necessary to address it. The president of the Texas Federation of Teachers argues that since his state started keeping score by adopting standards and accountability—and also provided the means to help children reach the standards—failure no longer goes quite so unnoticed and unremedied.

Getting Back on Course
Standards-Based Reform and Accountability

By Lauren Resnick and Chris Zurawsky

Standards-based reform and accountability has brought new attention to teaching our least successful students. But we can't realize its full benefits or minimize the negative trade-offs without fixing several big problems: inadequate standards; lack of curriculum, instructional programs, and related professional development; poor, narrow tests that are hijacking the reforms; and an accountability formula that identifies not only failing schools, but improving ones too.

An American Revolution: A Common Curriculum
By Albert Shanker

Lack of Equity, Quality Push Standards Forward in '90s

Standards-Based Reform Brings New Attention to Key Elements Necessary for Improving Student Achievement

Building New Knowledge
School Improvement Requires New Knowledge, Not Just Good Will
By Richard F. Elmore

Telling schools to get better is the easy part. The hard part is helping them figure out what the right thing is to do—and how to do it.

Curriculum First
A Case History
By Roger Shattuck

A school board member new to the world of K–12 schools discovers to his astonishment that neither his state nor his school district has a curriculum. As luck would have it, he discovers a great curriculum available to all.

The "AYP" Blues
Low-Achieving Schools Will Fail—but They're Not the Only Ones
By Nancy Kober

NCLB's requirement that schools make adequate yearly progress (AYP) is meant to identify failing schools. But of the six ways that a school could fail to make AYP described by this author, only one is directly related to school quality.

Accountability 101: Tests Are Blunt Instruments

Ideas to Consider: How to Make AYP Work Better for Students and Their Schools

Content Matters
Sometimes Even More Than We Think
By Duncan Larcombe

Thanks to her geography teacher's instruction, a young girl was able to warn many beachgoers that a tsunami was on its way.

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About American Educator

American Educator is a quarterly journal of educational research and ideas published by the American Federation of Teachers. Recent articles have focused on such topics as reducing the achievement gap between poor and affluent students, heading off student discipline problems, teaching an appreciation and understanding of democracy, the benefits of a common coherent curriculum, and other issues affecting children and education here and abroad. Total circulation, as of our most recent issue, is over 900,000.

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