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American education has always had its critics, and undoubtedly always will. Nonetheless, there are signs that the educational environment is improving in unexpected ways. This issue of the Brookings Papers on Education Policy, the eighth volume springing from a series of annual meetings sponsored by the Brookings Institution to examine specific educational issues, takes a step back to look at major reforms implemented over the last twenty years that have provided results or, because they are only recently in place, appear to hold promise for the future of education in the United States.
The largest change on the educational scene has been the introduction of standards and assessments, which has been endorsed at both the federal and local levels. This has proven to be controversial, but also shows strong signs of improving student performance in some sectors across the country. Also promising is the expectation of more and deeper, evidence-based education research, sorely lacking over the past two decades, which will help to identify successful strategies for boosting student achievement.
The combination of topics here includes examinations of 'brand-name' schools, those directed by private-sector entities, and the school choice movement, which has had a large impact in the past two decades. The experimentation with schools and their structuring is in its early stages, and while the results have been mixed, these efforts have compelled educators to take a hard look at their assumptions about how schools are organized and managed. Reading programs also have been a chief focus of attention by researchers. Content-rich programs have proven to be the most effective in building student comprehension, helping students build their vocabulary and their understanding of the world. And evidence-based reading research has helped the classroom teacher deliver reading instruction more successfully.
American education is undergoing significant shifts in the way it is delivered to children. The contributors here discuss some of those shifts and how they have helped move educational practices and curricula forward into the twenty-first century.
Introduction (Full Text)
Test-Based Accountability: The Promise and the Perils (Abstract)
Tom Loveless (Brookings)
Can the Federal Government Improve Education Research? (Abstract)
Brian Jacob (Harvard University) and Jens Ludwig (Georgetown University)
Realizing the Promise of Brand-Name Schools (Abstract)
Steven F.Wilson (Harvard University)
School Choice: How an Abstract Idea Became a Political Reality (Abstract)
Joseph P. Viteritti (Hunter College, CUNY)
Education Reform and Content: The Long View (Abstract)
E.D. Hirsch Jr. (Core Knowledge Foundation)
Evidence-Based Reading Policy in the United States: How Scientific Research Informs Instructional Practices (Abstract)
Reid Lyon and Vinita Chhabra (National Institutes of Health) and Sally E. Shaywitz and Bennett A. Shaywitz (Yale University)