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Education Week Roundup, Oct. 17

With congressional leaders and staff working behind the scenes to hammer out differences on NCLB, the current issue of Education Week looks at some little-noticed issues in the debate over law's future.

For 'Scientific' Label in Law Stirs Debate, Debra Viadero reports on the "quiet debate" over the definition of "scientifically based research." The phrase, which appears more than 100 times in the law, currently favors randomized or experimental studies. The House's draft would allow other types of studies to fall under that definition, so long as they aim to determine whether educational interventions are effective. The Department of Education's research chief isn't "thrilled" with the proposal. Neither is the Knowledge Alliance, a coalition of education research organizations. The American Educational Research Association is endorsing it. So is the Software & Information Industry Association.

For Bush, Others Want Law to Go Beyond Basics, I focus on the words "or above," which President Bush added to his definition of NCLB's goal. As in: "Every child must learn to read and do math at, or above, grade level," he said last week. Two-thirds of Americans seem to endorse that concept, according to a poll released last week.

In the Commentary section, check out Five Assessment Myths and Their Consequences by Rick Stiggins. The first myth is: "The path to school improvement is paved with standardized tests." Although Stiggins doesn't address NCLB specifically, the essay suggests he believes the law's accountability measures are invalid.

Also see Not Who But What is Left Behind. Barbara M. Stock writes that "our current overemphasis on standardized tests ... pressuring students to learn the right answer—these are major steps backward."

"In our time of 'no child left behind,' which places tremendous emphasis on standardization, I fear that the essential lessons for becoming a good American are precisely what are being left behind," Stock concludes.

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