Making Democracy Work

LWVUS Public Education Study

Public Education Study by the U. S. League of Women Voters

Education Study by the U.S. League of Women Voters


The Wheaton LWV is participating in the national LWV Public Education Study. The consensus meeting will take place November 17th.

Links to the consensus questions are below. The Leader's Guide is a comprehensive document meant for study leaders, but it may interest members, too. A Glossary of important terms should be helpful.

Members of the committtee are: Roberta & Beryl Jacobson, Diane Niesman, Helen White, and Pam Belfor.

Important Links

Consensus Questions

Members may like to look at Consensus Questions presented in the Leader's Guide. This pdf file includes that section of the guide extracted. The version in the Leader's Guide also includes instructions to the leader that members can skim over. Jean Pierce wrote Notes on the Consensus Questions that committee members found very useful.

Informational Meetings

Think about attending the following meetings provided by the Elgin and Central Kane County Leagues.

study issue..

Issues AddressedDate and TimePlaceSpeakerWhom to contact about numbers coming from your league
Core Standards/
Sept. 20, 7-9 pmElgin South High School, Room B100, 760 E. Main, South ElginDr. Cynthia Campbell from NIULaurel Bault,
Funding and EquityOctober 19, 7-9 pmBatavia Public Library,
10 S. Batavia Ave., Batavia
Ralph Martire from Center of Tax & Budget AccountabilityJean Pierce,


Adequacy of funding: This is an attempt to define the cost of an education, which would use research and identified methods to enable a high percentage of students to reach or exceed mandated performance levels.

Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP): This is a statewide accountability system, negotiated separately by every state with the U.S. Department of Education and mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 which requires each state to ensure that all schools and districts make Adequate Yearly Progress.

Assessments (Formative vs. Summative):

Summative Assessments are given periodically to determine at a particular point in time what students know and do not know in order to make a decision or determine a grade. Many associate summative assessments only with standardized tests such as state assessments, but they are also used as an important part of district and classroom programs.

Formative Assessments are part of the instructional process. When incorporated into classroom practice, they provide the information needed to adjust teaching and learning while they are happening. In this sense, formative assessments inform both teachers and students about student understanding at a point when timely adjustments can be made. These adjustments help to ensure students achieve targeted standards-based learning goals within a set time frame.

Common Core Standards (CCS): The Common Core Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. The initiative is sponsored by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). As such, the initiative is a national one and neither developed nor funded by the federal government.

Compensatory education: Compensatory education is a legal term used to describe future educational services which courts award to a special needs student under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEIA) when a school district has failed to provide a free and appropriate public education that meets their needs.

Cut scores: The cut score on a test (or on multiple tests) is the score that separates test takers into various categories, such as a passing score and a failing score, or a selected score and a rejected score. For example, the cut score on most state driving exams is 70%, meaning that anything below that score is a failing grade, and anything above that score is a passing grade.

de facto: in effect; for all intents and purposes

Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) or No Child Left Behind (NCLB): The Act is an extensive statute that funds primary and secondary education, while explicitly forbidding the establishment of a national curriculum. It also emphasizes equal access to education and establishes high standards and accountability. In addition, the bill aims to shorten the achievement gaps between students by providing each child with fair and equal opportunities to achieve an exceptional education. As mandated in the Act, the funds are authorized for professional development, instructional materials, resources to support educational programs and parental involvement promotion. The Act was originally authorized through 1970; however, the government has reauthorized the Act periodically since its enactment. The current reauthorization of ESEA is the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, named and proposed by President George W. Bush. The ESEA also allows military recruiters access to 11th and 12th grade students' names, addresses and telephone listings when requested.

Equity of funding: An attempt to equalize educational opportunities by sharing resources with equal access across schools.

Equity vs. Equality: Equity connotes fairness, rather than equal funding because there is a growing awareness that some students are more expensive to educate than others. Some educators talk about ";equity of opportunity"; and ";opportunity to learn,"; ideas that deal with access to what is deemed necessary to have an equal opportunity, opportunities that are often denied children of poverty.

English Language Learner (ELL) has replaced the term ESL English as Second Language learner. These are students who do not have English as their first language.

Federal vs. National Initiatives refers to both mandates and funding. A national program is one that was developed by a national organization. For example the Common Core Standards were developed by an initiative of the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and neither was required, promoted or funded by the federal government. Federal refers to those programs that are funded and/or mandated by the federal government. For this study, the Common Core Standards are a national initiative, but the federal government has required it for the grant program, ";Race to the Top."; There have long been national standards developed by professional organizations like the National Council of Teacher of Math, English, etc. But to date, there have not been federal standards.

Formula Grant Programs are noncompetitive awards based on a predetermined formula. These programs are sometimes referred to as state-administered programs.

Funding (Categorical vs. General): Categorical funding refers to the funding under the Elementary and Secondary Act which is awarded to districts with specified populations of high needs learners, for example Native Americans, special needs, poverty, etc. General funding is awarded for all children regardless of economic or social category.

GDP: Gross Domestic Product is the market value of all goods and services produced in a country over a period of time.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEIA) is a United States federal law that governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education, and related services to children with disabilities. It addresses the educational needs of children with disabilities from birth to age 18 or 21 in cases that involve 13 specified categories of disability. The current law is the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997 commonly referred to as IDEA.

Norm-referenced Tests vs. Criterion-referenced Tests: Norm-referenced tests are those that are interpreted by rank ordering children so that on a particular test children are compared to their peers, typically with percentile scores. Criterion-referenced tests are interpreted by comparing student scores to certain objectives or criteria.

Peer-reviewed journal is an academic journal edited by acknowledged experts in the broad field. When an article is submitted, an editor sends it to people who are specialists researching the topic addressed in the paper. Based on their feedback, the editor tells the prospective author whether the article is accepted for publication. Some articles are returned for revisions and may be resubmitted to the approval process.

Pedagogical: referring to the process of teaching

Race to the Top: Race to the Top, abbreviated R2T, RTTT or RTT, is a $4.35 billion U.S. Department of Education program designed to spur reforms in state and local district K-12 education. It is funded by the ED Recovery Act as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and was announced by President Barack Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on July 24, 2009.

Racial Achievement Gap: This terminology describes differences in educational performance between groups of students compared by race or ethnicity.

Standards and Curriculum:

Content standards establish the goals of learning whereas curriculum is the "how" to implement the standards or goals with specific materials and instruction to correspond to the standards. The Common Core Standards initiative is a U.S. education initiative that seeks to bring diverse state curricula into alignment with each other by following the principles of standards-based education reform. The initiative, sponsored by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), was announced on June 1,
2009. The initiative's stated purpose is to provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them.

Performance standards determine how much of the content standards a student must know in order to reach a particular level, such as "proficient."

Curriculum is an educational plan that spells out which goals and objectives will be achieved, how to achieve those goals and what topics should be covered as well as the methods and materials to be used for learning and evaluation. Neither the original Elementary and Secondary Education Act nor President Obama’s Blueprint supports federal development of curriculum.