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Spellings: Draft Would 'Water Down' AYP, Withhold Tutoring

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In her speech this morning, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings made it clear she doesn't like the House committee's NCLB draft. In her prepared remarks and comments to reporters afterword, she focused her criticism on accountability and supplemental services.

The proposal to add alternative measures to the accountability system would complicate it and could "water down" the focus on reading and mathematics, she said. According to her estimates, there would be a 75 percent reduction in the number of Utah schools identified as failing to make adequate yearly progress.

And the section creating a two-tiered accountability system would make 250,000 students ineligible for tutoring, she said.

After a question-and-answer period with the audience, Spellings gave AYP numbers and said they prove the law's accountability system isn't too onerous. Of the nation's 90,000 schools, 10,800 are "in need of improvement." Of those, 2,300 have failed to make AYP for five consecutive years, putting them into the restructuring phase of the law.

"That doesn't strike me as a wildly out of whack number," she said.

Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., and Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif., both spoke before the secretary. In his remarks, Rep. Miller said the secretary and her staff had a chance to review the draft as it was being written. After the speech, though, he had little to say to the pack of reporters who followed him to the elevator. I expect he'll be more vocal at the press conference he's scheduled for 3 p.m.

One last thing: Today's the deadline to e-mail the committee your comments on the draft. Rep. Miller said more than 10,000 people have e-mailed the committee. Secretary Spellings is sending a 3-page letter to the House committee today.

1 Comment

More of a question than a comment...what is the geographical location of the 10,800 schools "in need of improvement"? I suspect they may be in heavily populated urban areas. The need for school improvement seems to be greater in areas where competition for public money is greater due to a shrinking tax base.

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