In 1993, Washington State committed to a new strategy in education reform. The state's Commission on Student Learning set out to identify student learning standards, which clarify what students must know and be able to do if they are to succeed as adults in the 21st Century. Based on these standards, the state designed tests that will tell whether individual students, schools, school districts, and the state as a whole, are meeting the standards. The state also committed to a set of actions to help struggling schools, eliminate regulations that reduce school effectiveness, and help teachers do their jobs better.
Seven years into the process, the state is now faced with two challenges: First, ensuring that all students meet the new higher standards for student learning; and second, making certain that improvements in school and student performance are sustained over time. This report attempts to answer these questions by studying how principals and teachers respond to the new state standards and documenting effective strategies for improving school performance on the new state exams.