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Education Week Roundup, Nov. 7, 2007

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The current issue of Education Week gives updates on NCLB's future in the short and long term. As a bonus, it offers four commentaries suggesting changes to the law.

In my news story, I report that the current effort to reauthorize the law is "mired in backroom negotiations" that are unlikely to yield progress in the legislative process this year (2007 NCLB Prospects Are Fading). The story went to press with a quote from a Senate spokeswoman saying that chamber's education committee expected a NCLB bill to clear that chamber this year. That timetable has changed (see here and here). Edbizbuzz says this story, and blog posts related to it, state the obvious. Not really. This story confirms what many insiders had predicted: NCLB isn't headed for passage in the House this year. And it starts to sketch out the possibilities for the next year and beyond.

For my piece on education's role in in the 2008 presidential election, I found that the candidates don't have many nice things to say about NCLB (The Next Education President?). But leading candidates from both parties like the testing-and-accountability ideas the law is built on. "The horse is out of the barn," a political scientist told me. "Whatever happens, we're going to have a pretty heavily testing-driven accountability system." First Rep. George Miller, D-Calif. Now this. It's a big week for horse quotes.

In the Commentary section, four writers offer their big ideas to improve NCLB. Arnold Packer says the law should create the types of tests that assess skills employers seek, such as critical thinking, oral communication, and working in teams (Know What the Real Goals Are). Robert C. Pianta writes that the law needs new ways to identify highly qualified teachers. The current measures—seniority and credentials—aren't cutting it, he says (Measure Actual Classroom Teaching).

Mike Rose says that NCLB currently creates a culture of compliance focused on student test scores. The law needs changing, he concludes, so "we will begin to develop more fitting ways to talk about children and the schools that shape their lives" (Seek a 'Fuller Language of Schooling').

Peter Hlebowitsh says federal policymakers should remember the Hippocratic oath when considering NCLB's future (First, Do No Harm). The current law "denies children attending high-poverty schools a comprehensive, enriching, and life-enhancing education," he writes. The federal government should revert to its "historic moorings," he concludes. It should offer money for schools to assist specific populations and to conduct research that measures the nation's educational progress.

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This column has a truly unusual take on education rankings: http://goupstate.us/index.php/lanefiller/2007/11/07/it_s_no_the_rank_but_the_skill_that_hurt

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