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Education Week Roundup, Oct. 31

For the first time in months, the current issue of Education Week doesn't have an story describing the incremental progress (or lack thereof) on NCLB legislation. But the Education Week staff still managed to find several NCLB treats to share with you.

Christina A. Samuels delivers a front-page report on efforts to require "universal design for learning" in NCLB ('Universal Design' Concept Pushed for Education). A coalition of education groups wants states to create lesson plans that address a variety of learning styles. The language is in the discussion draft circulated by House members and in a bipartisan Senate bill (see this blog item).

Debra Viadero reports on a new study that suggests schools are working to improve achievement of students across the spectrum, not just those "on the bubble" of becoming proficient (Study Finds No 'Educational Triage' Driven by NCLB). Note that several researchers point out the limitations of the new study, including one scholar that has found contrary results.

New federal rules on racial reporting won't require states to change the way they categorize students' race under NCLB, Scott J. Cech reports (Ed. Dept. Holds Firm on Racial-Data Rules). States will be allowed to choose to align their racial classifications under NCLB with other reports required by the feds. But that could radically change their AYP results in racial subgroups.

On the Reading First beat, Kathleen Kennedy Manzo suggests that a new report shows that people in the field like the program (State, Local Officials Again Find 'Reading First' Useful). Despite implementation problems, she writes that "Reading First is worth preserving or expanding."

In the Commentary section, sociologist Jennifer Booher-Jennings compares the results of NCLB's accountability system with a federal program for hospitals (Closing the Measurement Gap). She points out less than 1 percent of hospitals fall under the federal accountability web, but 26 percent of public schools do. "How is it possible that education has so many more organizations on its failing list," she asks. "It's not that there is a performance gap between schools and hospitals. The trouble is the profound measurement gap between education and medicine." That ought to give lawmakers something to chew on as they work on reauthorization.

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