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Staying the Course, Part II

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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 models set a path to proficiency for all children be proficient by 2013-14.

Scores of English language learners would not be counted in schools' AYP results for two years (the department's current policy is one year). Once an ELL student is considered proficient in English, his or her score will count in the ELL subgroup for two extra years--making it easier for schools to make AYP.

In school choice, the bill would require Title I funds to follow the student to their new public school.

It would formally authorize the department's Teacher Incentive Fund and would create an adjunct teacher corp to recruit math and science professionals to teach those subjects in high school.

Things of note that are missing from the bill:

Private school choice--something that's on the Bush administration's wish list.
Block grants or other new flexibility--something that conservative Republicans want.

Eduwonk believes we're going to hear a lot about this bill in coming months and that it limits the terms of the debate about the overhaul of the law.

You'll find the statements of Sen. Burr and Gregg here. (Scroll down toward the middle of the page.)

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Expanding the growth model to more states than the original ten is a big step in the right direction for testing in NCLB. The New York Times reports, "a growth model...tracks the progress of students as they move from grade to grade rather than comparing, say, this year’s fourth graders with last year’s, the traditional approach." This will give states a year to year view of individual student's progress, which school systems could then use to trace the effectiveness of individual teachers over time. This quantitative information would be invaluable for obvious reasons. Including growth models as well as national standards and corresponding national assessments would be enormous steps on the road to significant education reform. Whether Congress can overcome the NEA's efforts to thwart these amendments in its reauthorization efforts remains to be seen.

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