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Miller's Three-Point Plan

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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 bubble between basic achievement and proficiency.

3.) Spur "more relevant and rigorous" standards by requiring states to ensure their standards are linked to the skills and knowledge students need to succeed in college or the workplace.

In the response to another question, Rep. Miller says science labs are the types of performance measures he would like to see included in the reauthorized NCLB.

See also the answers from Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif., the senior Republican on the committee. He agrees that standards should be tied to college and workplace readiness and that AYP should be determined by student growth. But he's silent on Rep. Miller's ideas to assess critical-thinking skills and to include performance-based measures.

Over the next month or two, we'll see if these two can bridge their differences on testing and other issues.

7 Comments

It sounds like someone has been paying attention to the legitimate concerns from teachers and administrators. These recommendations begin to address some of the major flaws with NCLB. Perhaps sanity will rear its head and avert the implosion of public education under the weight of the current law. This is encouraging news. Let's hope positive efforts of this type continue to be given serious consideration. We cannot afford to stay-the-course on this one.

I'm very apprehensive to consider "multiple measures" Rep. Miller is seems to be pushing. NCLB was designed to get all kids to a minimum level in reading and math. Critical thinking and problem solving are higher order skills for kids who have gotten past the minimum. So why the emphasis on critical thinking and problem solving. Get every student to the respective grade level in reading and math, never mind shooting for the moon. If the NEA is involved in promoting these multiple measures you can be sure there's something rotten in the hen house. What are these mystery measures to be? How objective will they be? If you're talking about portfolios and essays, which can be compromised in a heart beat by anyone, forget about it. You might just as well return to 1990 where social promotions and giving away high school diplomas simply for showing up for four years were the rule of the day. Our schools will once again become the laughing stock of the country and the world.

My understanding is that the growth models will onlt track students to proficiency. Are schools only worried about teaching the not yet proficient?
Shall they abandon the needs of high achievers or gifted students?

If classrooms reserve critical thinking and problem solving skills for only kids who get beyond the "minimum," there would be an ends/means reversal. Learning to think critically and developing problem solving skills are two basic foundations of any quality educational experience. Negating the hard work by high school students and teachers by saying diplomas were handed out in the 90s for merely showing up is a generalization that misses the target of the discussion here.

One size doesn't fit all in the shoe store anymore than it does in the classroom. Multiple teaching strategies are just as essential as multiple measures and the ability to include growth models in determining the progress being made by students within the classroom.

As an illustration of the harm done in the name of getting kids to their respective grade level in math and reading, take a look at one example of a "failing school" under the current NCLB at http://www.teachermagazine.org/tm/articles/2007/08/22/06bogard_web.html?tmp=1532165413

Gary,

The target of the discussion here is actual accountability as opposed to contrived. I was a high school administrator thoughout the 90's and I can assure you, kids graduated with little or no evidence of learning simply for showing up for four years. Hence ed reform became necessary. Colleges and businesses got tired of interviwing high school "graduates" who couldn't read beyond a third grade level and couldn't make change from a simple transaction in a retail store. The system was a joke! Just who do you think you're lecturing here?

Paul,
I intended no lecture from my end. I was simply responding honestly to the comments you posted. I thought that was one of the functions of a blog. You give your opinion and I give mine.

My experiences as a classroom teacher and building principal evidently were quite different from yours. I was a part of the public schools from 1974 until I retired just last year. I had the "pleasure" of experiencing the ed reform pendulum swing back and forth several times over a career of 32 years. NCLB was just the most recent.

I truly am sorry to hear how negative your experiences were as a school administrator in the 90s. In contrast, I had the good fortune to be part of a school system that actually worked well. With this in mind, it is easy to see why our perceptions would be so different.

I would ask you to consider your own question, Paul. "Just who do you think you are lecturing here?"

I am voicing my strong disagreement with Paul's idea of not shooting for the moon. Schools have forgotten about the kids who are proficient or were day
one of class. Why should our high achievers be denied their opportunity to learn? Where is his concern for the
equal opportunity for each child to develop to potential? When all one
seeks is the floor of achievement, and allows that floor to double as the ceiling, you get dumbing down! We just may need some smart minds in the future.
Will we have any left?

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  • Diane: I am voicing my strong disagreement with Paul's idea of read more
  • Gary: Paul, I intended no lecture from my end. I was read more
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