The Courts and Standards Based Reform

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Since the desegregation of public schools in the 1950s, the concept of standards-based reform has become a central topic within educational policy. Every American state is now required to enact standards-based reform policies while shifting responsibility away from the government and holding schools more accountable for their students performance. The Courts and Standards-Based Education Reform positions itself at the center of the long standing dispute between law, education, and public policy and analyzes the court's growing role in educational policy.

Benjamin Superfine contends that the courts are a strong force in determining education policy, and have been placed in the position to decide some of the most contentious and important issues facing education law as the standards-based reform movement has grown. Such major cases addressed by the courts, in light of standards-based reforms, include the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, and school finance reform litigation. As the courts continue to rule in cases that challenge fundamental aspects of U.S. educational policy, Superfine provides a new approach that can be used in the application and rulings of standards-based reforms.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The Courts and Standards-Based Education Reform is a meticulously researched, accessible, and insightful examination of the changing role of the judiciary in education policy. Dr. Superfine deftly weaves historical, legal, and education policy analyses into a compelling interdisciplinary story that expands our knowledge of the development and implementation of standards-based reforms, including No Child Left Behind. At the same time, Dr. Superfine effectively employs standards-based reforms as a window though which to provide a penetrating look at courts and how they have begun to develop new roles and lines of reasoning that have significant implications for education policy generally. This book makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the messy, complicated, and ambiguous institutional realities of education policy."
—Mark A. Smylie, University of Illinois at Chicago

"This book addresses a timely and significant issue: the promises and pitfalls associated with the involvement of courts in standards-based education reform initiatives. Ensuring meaningful opportunity to learn for all students, particularly those most at risk of educational failure, is the nation's most critical educational challenge. The role of law, both legislated and judge-made, in enhancing opportunity to learn, is an important focus of inquiry. The field of education law is at a crossroads, with the interface of social science, public policy, and legal decision-making taking on an increasingly important role. This book provides insight into judges' responses to standards-based education reform initiatives, with particular focus on the role of social science evidence in judicial decision-making."
—Diana Pullin, Boston College

"The book is a 'must read' for scholars and policymakers interested in the legal foundations of education governance. It provides a much needed primer on the evolution of U.S. education policy to date and, at its core, a careful analysis of the courts' increasing role in the regulation of education policy in the face of complex yet too often inconclusive research evidence. I will use it in my graduate teaching."
—Roger D. Goddard, University of Michigan School of Education

"Superfine is masterful at weaving the history of the reform movement, high-stakes testing, and resulting litigation, and he includes an in-depth analysis of the No Child Left Behind Act and standards-based reforms in school finance litigation. His conclusions are as analytical as they are insightful."
-H.J. Bultinick, Northeastern Illinois University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195337488
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 7/29/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Benjamin Michael Superfine is an Assistant Professor in the Policy Studies Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He received his J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School and a Ph.D. in Education Foundations and Policy from the University of Michigan School of Education. Before joining UIC, he practiced law at Dow Lohnes PLLC in Washington, D.C. Professor Superfine's research interests include various topics in education law and policy, including standards-based accountability policies and school finance reform litigation.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     ix
Introduction     1
The Courts' Involvement with Education     7
Overview of the Book     15
The Intended Audience     19
Standards-Based Reform and Accountability Policies     21
A Brief History of Standards-Based Reform and Accountability Policies     22
Theories of Standards-Based Reform     27
The Growth of Standards-Based Reform and Accountability Policies     31
No Child Left Behind     47
High School Exit Exams     55
Discussion and Conclusion     56
High-Stakes Testing Litigation     61
Intentional Discrimination     63
Preserving or Furthering the Effects of Prior Segregation     64
Disparate Impact     65
Due Process     69
Case Studies in High-Stakes Testing     71
Discussion and Conclusion     82
No Child Left Behind Litigation     87
The Implementation of Accountability Sanctions     89
The Justifiability of Student and School Performance Determinations     94
Capacities to Respond to Federal Requirements     108
Other Litigation Involving No Child Left Behind     116
Discussion andConclusion     117
School Finance Reform Litigation     123
A Brief Overview of School Finance Reform Litigation     125
The Emergence of Standards-Based Reforms in School Finance Reform Litigation     131
Discussion and Conclusion     162
Conclusion     173
Overview and Analytical Summary     174
Public Law Litigation Outside of Education     181
Recommendations for Court-Based Approaches to Standards-Based Reform     188
A Final Word     200
Frequently Used Abbreviations     203
Notes     205
Index     249
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