Essential Academic Learning Requirements
As a product of the 1996 Education Summit in Palisades, NY, Achieve was established to achieve the goals of that summit. The following is a direct quote from an Achieve document, emailed to me a couple weeks ago,
"Our benchmarking process will include the analysis of standards and assessments as a package, rather than simply looking at standards alone, as other groups have done in the past. The process will include a thorough evaluation of the quality and rigor of a state's standards and tests, and it will also measure the degree of alignment between the two. Achieve's benchmarking efforts will not be designed to grade or rank states. Instead, we will offer a service that is diagnostic in nature, yielding detailed information that we hope states will find useful as they strive to raise standards and improve performance. Just as successful businesses use the benchmarking process to learn from their global competitors, Achieve will draw on the best examples of standards and tests from the U.S. and abroad. Particular attention will be paid to the resources available from the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP), the Third International Math and Science Study (TIMSS), and other reputable international comparisons. Benchmarking will be conducted at the request of states and reporting of results will be confidential. After another competitive bidding process, we have selected two organizations--the Council for Basic Education (CBE) and the University of Pittsburgh's Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC)--to be our partners in this work. These two organizations have significant experience working with standards and assessments and share Achieve's confidence in the power of benchmarking to improve organizational performance."
The following is another quote taken from an NGA Policy statement, "The entity [referring to Achieve] would also encourage the development of a voluntary national, internationally benchmarked assessment that would assist states and business leaders in making more meaningful cross-state and international comparisons about academic standards, assessments, accountability, and student performance." A national, internationally benchmarked assessment...
LRDC is Lauren Resnick and the New Standards Project, program of National Center on Education and the Economy, Marc Tucker, president. Note the part in the first quote where it states the "process will include a thorough evaluation of the quality and rigor of a state's standards and tests" and "yielding detailed information that we hope states will find useful as they strive to raise standards and improve performance?" If you go into the Achieve site on the web (www.achieve.org), you will find that Washington state has submitted the Essential Academic Learning Requirements to Achieve; they are listed on the web site. Our EALRs will now be, are now being, or have been evaluated by CBE and LRDC, parent of the New Standards Project. The New Standards Project has published its own standards and no doubt those standards will be used in evaluating our state's EALRs.
In February, 1997, Diana Fessler testified before a joint Senate/House Education Committee hearing. She spoke of the New Standards Project and Washington State. At that time, Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson stated that she had terminated the contract with the New Standards Project. Dr Bergeson did not, in fact, terminate the contract, the contract ran its course. Now New Standards is again involved with our state in a capacity outside the purview of our state governance structure.
The following is a direct quote from an Achieve document, "Location decisions. Generally, business location decisions take years of careful research and planning, and few such decisions have been made in the year since the Summit. Still, a handful of companies have demonstrated their commitment to base such decisions, in part, on whether states and communities have high academic standards and/or student achievement levels." Translated, if you don't conform to our standards (as assessed by CBE and LRDC/New Standards Project), we will boycott your state. Voluntary? I don't think so.
Besides the obvious, the avenue has now been established for the New Standards Project standards to be brought into every state. NCEE will have obtained its objective of a national standards system without so much as a by-your-leave from the states. Will Washington state make the necessary changes to comply with the New Standards Project? If it doesn't, Washington state will be boycotted. So much for that local control mantra we keep hearing; that reform that is "bottom-up, local in flavor, etc, etc, etc."
Additional on Achieve:
The first president of Achieve is Robert Schwartz. Mr Schwartz has an interesting vita. It seems that in 1989 his name appears in a publication written by Marc Tucker (National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE)) for President Bush entitled, "To Secure our Future; the Federal Role in Education." The report was a compilation of five Carnegie working papers. His name next appears as one of the individuals present at the meetings that took place prior to Marc Tucker writing the "Dear Hillary" letter in November 1992. I am given to understand, but have not yet been able to substantiate, that Mr Schwartz sat on the Board of Directors of NCEE in the capacity of Special Assistant to the Govenor for Educational Affairs in the state of Massachusetts.
Mr Schwartz next surfaces at Pew Charitable Trust in charge of all foundation grants to the field of education. In this capacity, Mr Schwartz no doubt worked with Education Development Corporation on some joint ventures of which we are aware (see below). Education Development Center, as you may or may not know, wrote Washington state's 1995 school to work implementation grant, Working and Learning Together; wrote our 1996 one stop career center system implementation grant; and in December 1996/January 1997, analyzed our EALRs for the inclusion of the federal SCANS competencies as well as the inclusion of Washington state Goal 4 in the EALRs.
Now Mr Schwartz, with all his affiliations to Marc Tucker, is head of Achieve, and Learning Research and Development Center at the University of Pittsburg, instrumental in developing the standards and assessments for the New Standards Project--another program of NCEE--has been chosen to assess the exit outcomes (standards) submitted to it by each state. And in fulfillment of its recommendation printed in the 1996 edition of High Skills, High Wages, Washington state has submitted its EALRs for assessment.
Additional on Pew Charitable connection:
The following is a direct quote from the Pew Network for Standards-Based Reform web site. My comments are within [ ]'s:
"The [Pew] Trusts have moved ahead with several other projects aimed at contributing to the creation of a national standards-based reform strategy. In partnership with the New American Schools Development Corporation (NASDC), the private sector-led effort to create "break-the-mold" designs for American schools, the Trusts renewed their support for the National Alliance for Restructuring Education, the largest of the NASDC-funded design teams. [Did you catch that?] The Alliance is a consortium of education organizations, research and development centers, and private corporations (e.g., Learning Research and Development Center, Apple Computer, Xerox Corporation, Public Agenda Foundation), led by the National Center on Education and the Economy, whose mission is to help state and local education systems restructure themselves to achieve much higher student performance.
The Trusts enhance their support of a standards-based reform agenda through their continued support of New Standards, a program which, like the Alliance, is part of The National Center on Education and the Economy [Marc Tucker, president]. New Standards is a partnership among fifteen states, six school districts and two national research and development centers, whose goal is to produce not only a rigourous set of student performance standards [notice this says performance standards, not "academic" standards] in four subjects, but new performance-based assessment systems to measure achievement against those standards. One of the goals of this work is to provide student performance data that will enable policymakers, parents, and educators to know how their students are doing compared to students in other districts, states, and nations, [wait a minute, hasn't the education reform mantra been that we aren't supposed to be comparing one student to another (norming), only against themselves?] with whom they will be competing in the international marketplace.
In light of this standards-based reform agenda, [very important] the Trusts established The Pew Network for Standards-Based Reform, a consortium of medium-size school districts designed to explore the proposition that standards and assessments, if accompanied by a substantial investment in teachers' professional development aimed at producing a district-wide culture of continuous reflection and improvement, can in fact lead to significant gains in student performance." [circus animals perform; children learn.]
[The Pew Network for Standards-Based Reform is an alliance of three groups--Pew Charitable Trusts, National Center on Education and the Economy and Education Development Center.]
And yet more on the Pew Network for Standards-Based Reform:
The following quotes are directly from documents found on the Pew Network for Standards-Based Reform website. They give further definition to the Pew agenda in education reform.
"Much of the Trusts' grantmaking in education over the past six years has been aimed at supporting the development of new national institutions and projects--outside the federal goverment--that can provide leadership and direction for standards-based educational reform. This strategy concentrates on projects which create national standards for students represented by the Pew Network for Standards-Based Reform, the New Standards partnership, and for teachers through their support of the National Board for Professionalization of Teaching Standards."
Note: NATIONAL STANDARDS. The mechanism has now been set up, via the connection between LRDC/New Standards and Achieve, to make national standards a reality.
Under "The Roles of the Network Partners," the following is found for National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) and the National Alliance for Restructuring Education/New Standards:
"• provides standards and performance assessments in mathematics, English language arts, and, later, in science and applied learning;
• provides professional development in analysis and scoring of student work, administering reference exams, building leadeship and portfolios, and analyzing results;
• builds capacity for delivering critical elements of standards-based reform; and
• provides a linking protocol for local standards and assessments to New Standards."
This pretty much makes it clear that it will be the New Standards project standards and assessments that will define the "national standards."