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Consistency, Coherence Key to Implementing Reform
David Cohen of the University of Michigan addressed the significance of consistent state policy for curricula and testing. Cohen's book, Learning Policy: When State Education Reform Works, examines successes and failures in California's program to improve mathematics education. His research focused on evaluating reforms in K-12 education by investigating how state school reforms were implemented and how the resulting policy decisions affected teachers' practice and student learning.
Cohen maintains that effective state reform depends on coherence, in practice as well as policy, coupled with opportunities for the professional development of teachers. His research reveals that state policy can influence teaching and learning when tests and other policy tools are consistent; when the curricula and classroom practices are consistent; and when teachers are enabled to learn the practice proposed by the policy. Students scored higher on state math tests when these conditions were met.
By shedding light on the California experience and those of the other districts described in the case study presentations, the conference helped to "highlight the improvements in student achievement that are possible when curriculum materials, assessment, and professional development are all aligned with what students are expected to learn," concluded Jo Ellen Roseman, Project 2061's acting director.
Other speakers included Andrea Bowden of the Baltimore City Public Schools, Virginia Malone of Harcourt Publishing, and Diane Briars of Pittsburgh Public Schools. The conferences are funded through grants from the National Science Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.
(Reports on textbook evaluations are available on www.project2061.org.)
For more information relating to the conference, see related article, "Improving Student Science Achievement in Michigan."
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