July 2007 Archives

Miller's Speech Lacks Details, Some Say

The reactions to Rep. George Miller's speech on the future of NCLB reauthorization are in. In the Education Week story, Mark Walsh notes that Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon is disappointed by the pace of negotiations. The congressman's statement also says that he won't support a bill that weakens the current law's "three pillars:" accountability, flexibility, and parental choice. The story also has an interview with the NEA's Joel Packer, showing that the union dislikes performance pay for teachers. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings suggests that she's willing to be patient and wait for a bill that doesn't "roll back" accountability ...


Miller's Speech: Watch it Yourself

Back in town this morning, and I've found a link to Rep. Miller's NCLB speech on C-SPAN's homepage. This link comes with a technical warning. My Firefox browser failed to access it, and Internet Explorer succeeded only after I downloaded RealAudio. More later with links to news stories and reaction from the education community. UPDATE: View Miller's speech, via YouTube (edited version):...


Education Week Roundup

Through the miracle of technology, even though I'm far away, I'm able to bring you a quick roundup of Education Week's latest NCLB stories. In "Key NCLB-Renewal Bills Withheld Until Fall," Alyson Klein and I note that congressional committees have postponed action on NCLB until September, leaving some to question whether Congress has enough time to get a bill past before the presidential primaries dominate the political scene. CORRECTED PARAGRAPH In "12-State Study Finds Falloff in Testing Gains After NCLB," Scott Cech reports on the latest academic research on student achievement during the NCLB era. The new study says that ...


Miller Speaks

I'm traveling today, so I wasn't there when Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., gave his speech on the future of NCLB. Education Week's Mark Walsh was there though, and filed this story. I'll be back in the office tomorrow and will provide a roundup of reactions to what the chairman said today....


PEN's Message: NCLB Has Right Goals, Wrong Methods

The Public Education Network has convened public forums and focus groups over the past three years. The Washington-based group heard from educators, parents, and community leaders in cities such as Austin, San Francisco, and Orlando as well as other cities that have public education funds. (Those are private groups that provide grants and other supports to school districts.) Here's the summary graph from PEN President Wendy Puriefoy's intro to the final report on those meetings, released today: "Over three years, and at every hearing site, the public supported the goals of NCLB. However, until the act addresses the realities of ...


The Ed. Department's Read on Curriculum Research

In yesterday's post on the new report from the Center on Education Policy, I cited the education secretary's statement referring to "much other evidence" that shows schools are adding instructional time rather than taking it away from subjects other than reading and math. Curious, I e-mailed Press Secretary Katherine McLane and asked her to show me the research. Here's a summary of her response: McLane wrote that data from the 2003-04 school year in the department's School and Staffing Survey show that instructional time in grades 1-4 increased by two hours a week over the previous 15 years. Citing the ...


Too Much Reading and Math?

The Center on Education Progress is out with the latest of many NCLB reports. This one documents how schools are emphasizing reading and mathematics at the expense of other subjects in the NCLB era. The report says that 44 percent of the 349 districts CEP surveyed reported that they reduced time in at least one of the following subjects: social studies, science, art and music, physical education, and lunch and/or recess. Those districts cut, on average, 30 minutes a day from those subjects. That represents 31 percent of instructional time in those schools, the report said. Not surprisingly, the ...


Wait Until September

Lobbyists, go ahead and make your vacation plans. The House Education and Labor Committee won't be taking up NCLB reauthorization before Congress recesses for August. In the schedule it released this morning, the committee listed no NCLB hearings or markups. Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., had targeted July for getting a bill out of his committee, but now he's postponed that until fall. Since the beginning of summer, the word has been that Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., was planning on taking his NCLB bill to the Senate's education committee in the fall. Now the question is: Can Congress finish a ...


You've Been YouTubed!

From contributor Mark Walsh The early presidential debates finally got around to something more than lip service to education issues, as the CNN/YouTube debate on Monday night devoted a string of four questions to K-12 education issues. The unusual format at the July 23 debate at the Citadel in Charleston, S.C., featured citizens’ delivering questions via YouTube videos, with CNN producers selecting which questions to direct to the eight candidates seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. The most provocative question came from Randy McGirr of Trona, Calif., whose heavy-metal style video was unequivocally opposed to the law: “NCLB was ...


Testing, Take 2

Today Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings went up to Capitol Hill and took the opportunity to talk about the ongoing debate over testing. Should it remain centered around a statewide test given once a year or should districts or even schools develop a series of tests that could eventually be used in accountability decisions? As an architect of the current state-based approach, Ms. Spellings said she needs to be convinced there's good reason for change. In her brief presentation to a forum convened by the Congressional Black Caucus, she said she would oppose anything she believes would "water down the ...


Differing Points of View

I was a little disappointed when I read the guest list for this broadcast of "On Point," an NPR show out of Boston. Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., and Susan Ohanian from the Educator Roundtable are zealous critics of NCLB and Amy Wilkins from the Education Trust is a staunch defender of it. After listening, I've decided that the show's producers were onto something. The callers were just as strident as the guests. Parents said their schools ignore gifted children or that teachers have to surreptitiously teach anything that isn't test prep. A teacher responded, saying the law's accountability measures ensured ...


Teachers Effectiveness Debate

The issue of the week in the House appears to be testing. In the Senate, it's teacher quality. At least that's the conclusion you can draw from reading the reactions to yesterday's introduction of the All Children Can Achieve Act. The bill is mentioned here. The bill follows many of the recommendations of the Aspen Institute's Commission on NCLB, which would require schools to use students' test scores to evaluate their teachers. New York City Chancellor Joel I. Klein likes the bill because it focuses on "teacher performance, not on teacher credentials," according to this Associated Press report. The NEA's ...


Renaming NCLB?

Three centrist senators unveiled their version of NCLB reauthorization today. Details aside, the proposal has one intriguing suggestion: rename the law. Sens. Lieberman, Landrieu, and Coleman call their bill the All Students Can Achieve Act. Despite the new name, the bill would retain NCLB's goal of all children achieving proficiency in reading and mathematics by 2014. It would change some important policies, though, following many recommendations of the Aspen Institute's Commission on NCLB. The bill would identify highly effective teachers and determine accountability for schools based on the growth of student achievement. It would invest in state data systems to ...


Testing, Testing

A lot of comments across the Web—like here, and here, and here—about a Congressional Quarterly report that Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon doesn't like the Democratic draft of an NCLB bill. McKeon is especially concerned about the language that would allow districts to use so-called multiple measures in determining AYP, according to one of his aides. The aide pointed to a July 13 letter from the Education Trust and civil rights groups calling for "extreme caution" in allowing for scores from new tests to be used in calculating AYP. Any such alternate tests would "dilute Title I's clear focus...


Environmental Educators Speak Out

In the latest twist on the NCLB name, environmental groups have announced their No Child Left Inside campaign. "In the classroom, NCLB causes science teachers to bypass environmental science when it does not appear to relate directly to state tests," says the coalition, which includes the Sierra Club, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and several of other environmental groups. "Beyond the classroom, teachers have to forgo valuable, hands-on field investigations rather than take time away from test-related instruction," the group adds. They're pushing an amendment to NCLB that would boost spending on environmental education and would: Start a grant program in ...


Bubble Kids Benefit

A new study out of Chicago suggests that low-achieving and high-achieving students haven't benefited from No Child Left Behind. When comparing changes in Chicago students' test scores pre- and post-NCLB, researchers Derek Neal and Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach found a "strikingly consistent pattern" in the test scores of students with lowest-achievement test scores. They scored "the same or lower" under NCLB's accountability system than they did in the 1990s under the Chicago's accountability measures. When looking at gifted students, the researchers found "mixed evidence of gains" in the NCLB era. Kids in the middle--the ones closest to proficiency--performed better under NCLB ...


Staying the Course, Part II

Here are some of the key details in yesterday's bill introduced by Sen. Burr and Gregg: Creates differentiated consequences for schools based on how far they are falling short of their AYP goals. The ones farthest from their targets would get the most support; others would get targeted help based on their needs. Expands the current growth model program run by the U.S. Dept. of Ed. to make all states eligible. (Currently, 10 states are in the program, and the dept. has capped the pilot at that.) Like the department, the bill would create the department's requirement that growth ...


Stay the Course, Senate Republicans Say

Some people predicted House Democrats would introduce an NCLB bill this week. Wrong chamber and wrong party. Sens. Judd Gregg and Richard Burr--both Republican members of the Senate's education committee--released their version of a reauthorized bill today. From the press release on Sen. Burr's site, it doesn't look as if they would change much. They would keep most of Secretary Spellings' "core principles." That includes goals of proficiency by 2013-14, annual testing grades 3-8, focus on reading and math. It also promises: "Additionally, the bill would streamline the accountability timeline to make it easier for schools to develop and implement ...


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