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Education Reform by Ian C. Friedman

By Ian C. Friedman

Booklet through Friedman, Ian C

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The implementation and far-reaching implications of these tests are at the heart of accountability, and they have become an increasingly essential feature of education reform. Assessment advocates often view statewide testing as a way to raise expectations and to help guarantee that students are held to the same high standards. Critics respond that testing too often narrows student learning to what is tested, leading instructors to “teach to the test” and cover only a sample of what students should know.

For many supporters of standards, they represent the most effective means by which glaring gaps in student performance and expectations can be addressed, leading to a foundation of excellence and equity throughout the public school system. Within this framework are different types of standards. Academic standards describe what students should know and be able to do in the core academic subjects at each grade level. Content standards describe basic agreement about the body of education knowledge that all students should know.

Minnesota led the way for such initiatives in 1988 and five other states (Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin) currently have them. The issue of vouchers is most associated with private school choice. These programs, which usually are at the center of arguments about choice, permit parents to use public funds to send their children to private schools and, in many cases, religious schools. Few issues in education, if any, are as intensely debated as private school vouchers. Supporters of the practice often argue that private school vouchers encourage equity by enabling students from families of low socioeconomic status, like their wealthier peers, to escape the troubled and inadequate public schools.

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