August 2007 Archives

Here's my final post summarizing the contents of the House education committee's NCLB draft. (See Part 1 and Part 2.) I'll focus on students with disabilities and touch on a few other subjects ... Testing Special Education Children The draft would keep the Department of Education's 2 percent rule intact. That rule allows 2 percent of students (approximately 20 percent of special education students) to take a modified assessment. Those who are proficient on those modified tests are counted as proficient for accountability purposes. To accommodate districts with high numbers of special education students, the draft would allow districts to apply ...


Through the magic of the World Wide Web, you can read my story that will appear in the Sept. 5 issue of Education Week. Check back at edweek.org today for sidebars on English Language Learners and special education students. They should be up Friday afternoon. One of the subtexts to this story is that it occurred during the last week of August, a week that many Washingtonians reserve for vacation. Over the course of the week, I talked to one person who was at his house on the Chesapeake Bay and another at his second home in Colorado. I ...


Just finished my reporting for my story that will appear in the Sept. 5 issue of Education Week. It should be posted on edweek.org soon. I plan to blog a comment or two on it when it's posted. First here's my summary of the differentiated interventions of the House proposal. Under the current law, schools receive the same menu of interventions if they miss their AYP targets by a little or a lot, in one subgroup or all of them. This section is intended to tailor the intensity of the interventions to the needs of the school. But Michael ...


Many folks out there are looking through the fine print of the 400-page NCLB draft that the House education committee put out yesterday. If you don't have time to do that—or even read the summary—here's a digest of issues related to testing, accountability, and AYP. I'll follow up with issues related to special education and differentiated consequences. For a summary of issues related to English Language Learners, read this post on Learning the Language, a blog written by my colleague Mary Ann Zehr. One key point to remember about this proposal is that it retains two significant...


I'll be posting more on the House draft bill later, but I first I want to call your attention to the current issue of Education Week. As usual, it's full of NCLB news and commentary. The 39th Annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll on attitudes toward public schools is out today and it focuses primarily on NCLB. The headline Poll Finds Rise in Unfavorable Views of NCLB tells the story in a nutshell. Andrew Trotter's story lays out the details, documenting how public support for the law has declined gradually since 2003. NCLB critics say the public attitudes mirror their ...


Alyson Klein and I have seen a summary of the changes that House education leaders are proposing for Title I, Part A of NCLB. Both Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., and Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif., signed onto the draft. You can read our reporting on the draft and you can look at legislative language at the House Education and Labor Committee's Web site. We'll be tracking this story with more updates to come....


Rep. George Miller and his staff have been working hard during August recess. The chairman of the House education committee told Florida educators yesterday that he would be releasing a draft of NCLB bill soon, probably today. I checked the committee's Web site this morning and haven't found anything. This post from an outspoken NCLB critic suggests that the draft is an attempt to garner support for the bill among educators, parents, and even students. Stayed tuned to edweek.org and to this blog for updates....


Rep. George Miller said last month that NCLB "is not fair, not flexible, and is not funded." In response to one question on this PBS Web chat, the chairman of the House education committee lays out three things he wants to change about the law: 1.) Revise assessments "so they measure critical thinking, problem solving, and other important skills." New tests could reduce the amount of test-prep and "drill-and-kill" of "low-level skills," he writes. 2.) Create growth models to "ensure that teachers get credit" for raising test scores across the achievement spectrum, as well as for helping students on the ...


In 11 years at Education Week, I've covered State of the Union Addresses, visited dozens of schools, and traveled to Antarctica. But I've never interviewed a Hollywood celebrity. Until today. Fitness guru Richard Simmons read my item about the House bill he's endorsing to add physical education requirements under NCLB. One of his assistants called to tell me Simmons would like to talk. I left him a message, and he called back five minutes later. You can listen to our 15-minute conversation here. (He does most of the talking.) He explains that he's taking on this campaign because he wants ...


One thing is almost certain about NCLB's future: The way AYP is calculated will change. Most, including the chairman of the House's education committee, would use students' test-score growth as the key indicator. In the new issue of Education Next, Harvard researcher Paul E. Peterson is the latest to outline ideas for a growth model. Under his plan, schools would be given letter grades, from 'A' through 'F,' based on the amount of progress their students are making toward the goal of universal proficiency by the end of 2013-14 school year. He compares the current "you made it or ...


A quick update on the new teacher quality lawsuit: My colleague Vaishali Honawar has a story with more details here. Also, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education supports the lawsuit. "The federal government needs to close this loophole that allows unprepared and uncertified teachers to enter the classroom and be called highly qualified," Jane West, the group's vice president for government relations and advocacy, writes in this statement....


Last week, Karl Rove suggested that Bush administration might flex executive muscle to change NCLB. Today, a coalition of California groups filed a lawsuit saying the administration hasn't been forceful enough in writing the law's highly qualified teacher rules. Read all about it here. In the suit, Public Advocates asks a federal judge to enforce the law's requirement that teachers be fully certified under state law to be considered highly qualified. The department's rules allow states to declare teachers pursuing alternative certification as highly qualified, according to this statement from Jenny Pearlman, a staff attorney for Public Advocates. The department's ...


I'm back from an NCLB-free vacation. Thanks to Alyson Klein for taking over the blog and to Sean Cavanagh for making a cameo appearance. I've been playing catch up on NCLB news for the past 48 hours. Perhaps the most interesting tidbit I've found was buried in this AP story about President Bush's plans to assert his executive authority during the remainder of this term. "We have No Child Left Behind, which we can either do by law or regulation; we want to do it by law," outgoing presidential adviser Karl Rove said. This adds a new wrinkle to those ...


Merit pay for teachers, which has been a subject of debate among lawmakers working towards reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act, was a point of discussion in the Democratic presidential debate in Iowa on Sunday. It’s particularly interesting to see how the three candidates who sit on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, which could take up an NCLB reauthorization bill as early as next month, came down on that issue, and on the education law generally. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., said he would support merit pay as long as teachers “have some buy-in” in ...


It’s unclear just how Congress will address the question of how—and whether—to expand parts of the No Child Left Behind Act to high schools. There’s no shortage of proposals out there, though, many of which are endorsed by the Alliance for Excellent Education, a Washington-based advocacy organization headed up by former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise, a Democrat. The group held a briefing on Capitol Hill this morning for congressional staff member, education advocates, and the press. Bethany Little, the group's vice president for policy and federal advocacy, highlighted some of the high school overhaul measures ...


Written by Education Week's Sean Cavanagh This week, one of the leading voices in the U.S. business lobby, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, offered some specifics on the kinds of changes to the law its leaders will support, with this underlying message: Hold firm. Arthur J. Rothkopf, a senior vice president at the Chamber, told reporters at an Aug. 15 press event in Washington (link launches RealMedia audio file) that the organization opposes the idea of establishing "multiple measures'' to judge students' academic progress under a reauthorized NCLB unless those measures are as academically demanding as the current ...


The Senate, Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee held a field hearing in Sante Fe, New Mexico on NCLB on August 10, exploring the impact of the law on Native American students, which so far, has been an under-the-radar-issue in the larger reauthorization debate. Coverage of the event in the Santa Fe New Mexican and the Albequerque Journal mainly focused on criticisms that the law has made it harder for schools to focus on native languages and culture. Maggie Benally, principal of the Navajo Language Immersion School in Fort Defiance, Ariz., which has made adequate yearly progress the past three ...


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been largely silent about the No Child Left Behind Act. But yesterday she told the National Conference of State Legislatures that Congress will make such signficant changes to the law that it will have to be renamed. NCSL has been sharply critical of much of the NCLB law, particularly its expansion of the federal role in education. But Ms. Pelosi seems to think they'll like the new version, according to this story on stateline.org. "I believe you will be pleased with the legislation that is gathering strong bipartisan support. The bill will be fair ...


Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson is working hard to win over educators in New Hampshire. According to the Associated Press, the governor of New Mexico pledged to a state conference of National Education Association members to completely scrap the No Child Left Behind Act and seek a federal minimum wage for teachers. It’ll be interesting to see whether any of the Democratic front-runners—Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, or former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina— will feel compelled to move towards those positions or flesh out their own education proposals. We might ...


Linda Perlstein’s new book Tested: One American School Struggles to Make the Grade has garnered a lot of attention, both online and in print. Ms. Perlstein spent the 2005-06 school year at Tyler Heights Elementary School in Annapolis, Md., chronicling the Title I school’s efforts to maintain its remarkable gains on state standardized tests. Unlike their more ad-vantaged peers at a neighboring elementary school, students at Tyler Heights have little time for creative activities, such as puppet shows and plays, according to Ms. Perlstein. Opponents of NCLB’s testing regime say the book fuels arguments that the federal ...


Congress is headed out of town, and so am I. I'll leave the blog in the capable hands of my colleague, Alyson Klein. Alyson and I work together reporting stories (see here and here) for the Washington section for Education Week. Although August is traditionally a slow news month in Washington, I'm sure Alyson won't lack for NCLB news. States are starting to release their AYP results, schools are getting ready for to start the 2007-08 year, and tutoring providers soon will start recruiting students. There's never a break from NCLB news. I'll return on Aug. 20, and I look ...


This academic study will give ammunition to both sides of the NCLB debate. In it, researchers S. David Brazer and Erin E. Peters of George Mason University tracked policy changes in an anonymous California district. About half of the districts' 13,000 students speak English as a second language, and its schools are struggling to make AYP with that population. The district's management team decided to require to elementary schools of offer limited English proficient students English literacy instruction 30 minutes a day, four days a week. The instruction was to be done during the 2 1/2 hours a ...


You may have to wait till September to glimpse the future of NCLB, but you'll be able to spend your August vacation imagining the future of math and science education. Sean Cavanagh reports for Education Week that the House passed a so-called competitiveness bill yesterday. The comprehensive legislation is chock full of math and science education. It has a new math program to get students ready to take algebra and scholarships for undergraduates who promise to teach math and science in high-need schools. Read more here. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill today and send it to ...


In this video from the Educator Roundtable, you'll hear (over and over) the most common criticism of NCLB: It requires too much testing. What strikes me is the repeated images of President Bush. As Eduwonk notes, polling shows that respondents support the general concepts of NCLB. But that support fades once they're asked a question that identifies those concepts with NCLB. Because the name is so closely associated with the president, maybe his unpopularity (as shown in polls here and here) will hinder reauthorization....


Even as Congress prepares for vacation, House members are stating their priorities for NCLB reauthorization. Today, the Alliance for Excellent Education put out an alert about the Measuring and Evaluating Trends for Reliability, Integrity, and Continued Success Act, or the METRICS Act. It would provide up to $150 million in formula grants for states to create and use new longitudinal data systems. Such systems are vital for developing accurate graduation rates and for helping educators understand how to help students improve their academic performance, data lovers say. Reps. Rush Holt, D-N.J., and Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., are sponsoring the ...


A bunch of the reporting and reaction to Rep. George Miller's NCLB speech focused on his statement about graduation rates, making a big deal that this measure would be an addition to the law's accountability system. But graduation rates currently are an ingredient in determining adequate yearly progress in high schools. The problem is that states have set their goals so low that the graduation rates almost don't matter, the Education Trust says in a report out today. In its analysis, the Ed Trust found that states' goals are "far too low" to have any impact. It also suggests that ...


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