As states across the country move forward with education reform consistent with President Obama’s March 2010 Blueprint for Reform, scholars at the university-based National Education Policy Center assert that the reform proposals in the Blueprint are not sufficiently based on solid research. The Blueprint for Reform sets forth the Obama Administration’s proposal to revise the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), a.k.a. the No Child Left Behind Act, by making sweeping changes in school curriculum, academic standards, assessments, and accountability. In response to the Administration’s reform proposals, 36 states and the District of Columbia have adopted common academic standards and some states, such as New Jersey and Maryland, are taking steps to change teacher compensation to encourage greater accountability. Many states are adding or updating longitudinal data systems to better track student and teacher performance from pre-kindergarten through high school.
However, scholars at the National Education Policy Center challenged the soundness of the Obama Administration’s reform proposals in a recently published book titled The Obama Education Blueprint: Researchers Examine the Evidence. According to a September 29, 2010 article in Education Week online, the book’s authors found that the overall quality of the research used by the Administration in developing the Blueprint proposals “is far below what is required for national policy discussion of critical issues.” The Education Week article states that the authors said that the Administration relied too heavily on the work of advocacy groups and focused on the use of standardized-test scores without justifying their use as valid measures of learning. The authors also took issue with what they perceived as a lack of research to support the Administration’s proposals for changing accountability systems and turning around low performing schools.