NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

States Still Not Up To Education Standards

January 6, 2000

Only five states have strong academic standards with tough accountability for students from kindergarten through 12th grade, according to a new report card issued by the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation. The group, led by noted education specialist Chester Finn, found that 21 states "cannot claim to embrace standards-based reform."

  • According to the report, only Alabama, California, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas "can claim to be doing standards-based reform well" with strong accountability and solid standards.
  • Forty-two states were found to hold mediocre or inferior expectations for students.
  • One hopeful indication is that states' average grade for the quality of academic standards rose to C-minus, compared to D-plus in a similar study conducted two years ago.
  • Finn says that "the dismaying reality is that tens of millions of American kids are still attending schools that lack one or both of these essentials" -- standards and accountability.

Defenders of the education establishment were quick to criticize the study -- claiming that students in the five leading states were low scorers on the National Assessment of Educational Progress exams, while students in states that the Fordham study calls "irresponsible" score high on both NAEP and international tests.

Source: Tamara Henry, "Only 5 States Pass Group's Education Test," USA Today, January 6, 2000; Chester E. Finn, Jr. and Michael J. Petrilli, ed., "The State of State Standards 2000," January 2000, Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, 1627 K Street, N.W., Suite 600, Washington, D.C. 20006, (202) 223-5452.


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