Federal Education Policy and the States, 1945-2009
The Clinton Years: IASA - Assessments and Standards
The 1994 reauthorization also created the Eisenhower Professional Development Program, which supported professional development efforts in the subject areas, created a new technology program to support the development and delivery of software for standards-based instruction, and advanced other objectives through the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act. All of this was done to assist schools and districts in meeting the standards they had set.
To help free districts from what were portrayed as the constraints of federal policy, Clinton promoted something called EdFlex -the ability for states to get waivers from some federal requirements. Though EdFlex was initially conceived as a relatively narrow pilot program, the number of states and districts that were eligible for waivers increased over time. The waivers were meant to allow districts the flexibility they needed to align practices with the changing state environments in which they now found themselves. These changes were due in large part to the convergence of the theories of systemic reform and new accountability. Along with increased flexibility, the other 1994 legislative changes were meant to operate in the larger context outlined by Goals 2000.
As part of systemic reform, both the IASA and Goals 2000 required states to align their program assessments (i.e., state tests) with clear subject-matter standards. The idea was to create a coherent framework for curriculum, assessment, teacher training, performance objectives, and financial accountability. In other words, states and districts were to use federal aid to promote the alignment of key factors that enhance academic achievement. IASA required states to develop content and performance standards along the same lines as Goals 2000, with assessments aligned to those standards.