Growing Nationwide Support for National Standards and Tests: Fifteen urbanschool systems, including the three largest (New York City, Los Angeles, andChicago) and six of the seven largest, have pledged to participate in thePresident's voluntary national testing initiative. Located in eleven states,together they represent approximately 7% of the nation's 4th and 8th graders.The commitment of these large school systems -- through partnerships of localschool boards, superintendents and teachers unions -- demonstrates that supportfor the President's call for national standards and tests is truly nationwide.Students from Ft. Lauderdale to Seattle, from New York to Los Angeles, from SanAntonio to Chicago, will be prepared to meet the same basic skills in readingand math. For the first time, parents, teachers and the public in thesecommunities will know how well students perform compared to national standardsin reading and math, international benchmarks in math, and to students in othercities and states throughout the nation.
High Standards for All Students: With this announcement, urban educators andcommunities send a clear signal that students in inner city schools can andshould be held to the same challenging standards that are being set for allstudents throughout the nation. These communities recognize that setting highstandards in the basic skills for all students is a prerequisite for improvedteaching and learning. Research and experience shows that students can meethigh standards, and that low expectations lead to low achievement. While thisstep alone will not improve teaching and learning for students in urbanschools, it will guide and catalyze efforts to strengthen curriculum, providetraining to teachers, increase parental and community involvement, and supportthe necessary investments at the local, state, and national levels to improveour schools.
A Challenge to Educators: Use Tests for Improvement and Accountability:President Clinton challenged local educators to use the test information toimprove teaching and learning and to strengthen accountability. The U.S.Department of Education will make available information that describes theknowledge and skills students must master in order to meet the nationalstandards. Each year, once the tests are given, the test items will bereleased to the public to further clarify what students must know and be ableto do to meet the standards. Educators should use this information to upgradethe curriculum, strengthen teacher preparation and professional development,and promote parental and community involvement in learning. They also shoulduse the results of the tests to provide needed help to low performing students.Finally, they should incorporate the test results into school and schooldistrict report cards, that will hold administrators and teachers accountablefor poor aggregate performance.
A Challenge to the Nation: Provide Students and Schools With the Help TheyNeed: President Clinton challenged the nation to support students in urbanareas and throughout the nation so they can reach high standards in the basics,and continue to learn for a lifetime. He called on the Congress to enact hisAmerica Reads initiative to promote early literacy and prepare students toreach national standards in reading, and to pass his new initiative to recruitand prepare teachers for urban and poor rural areas. Further, PresidentClinton pledged to continue to explore additional steps that can be taken tohelp prepare students in our cities for the 21st century.
National Tests Based on Widely Accepted National Standards: The national testsin the basic skills areas of 4th grade reading and 8th grade math will bemodeled on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The NAEPtests are based on widely accepted standards developed by parents, teachers,reading and mathematics specialists, curriculum specialists and researchers.The NAEP standards reflect a national consensus of what students should knowand be able to do when they reach these critical stages of learning. Inaddition, the 8th grade math tests will also be linked to the ThirdInternational Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), so that student scores canbe compared to international benchmarks as well as national standards.
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