Making Standards Work: Active Voices, Focused Learning

February 1999

This report works at identifying steps Washington state schools can take to improve new state assessment scores and meet higher state standards. Follow-up reports include Making Standards Stick (2000) and Making Standards Meaningful (2001).

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.

It is too early to assess the overall success of the new state standards and tests. But it is time to use the information we have to learn how schools whose students do well on the early tests differ from schools whose students do less well, and then to identify ways that struggling schools can get the help they need.

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