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Spellings Appears Ready to Defend NCLB for Long Haul


I'm a little late to blog about Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings' agenda-setting speech yesterday. (I was too busy writing a story about it and the rest of the events marking NCLB's 6th anniversary.)

Eduwonkette says Spellings' idea of 100 percent proficiency is a fantasy. (A belated welcome to edweek.org, Ms. Wonkette, whoever you are. People are talking about you.) Kevin Carey is impressed by the secretary's forceful defense of and knowledge of NCLB, but questions her legal authority to change it. Andy Rotherham sees an "outside chance" of NCLB being reauthorized this year, but warns it might not happen until 2010.

Here's what I can add to the discussion: All of the others noted that Spellings is unwilling to budge on NCLB's big issues. Maybe she doesn't need to compromise. As she said Monday on Air Force One, the law is permanently authorized. It will stay in place until Congress can pass a bill to revise it. The next president certainly will want to change NCLB, but that won't be at the top of his or her agenda, given what's being said on the stump. Spellings told me when I profiled her that she plans to be actively involved in education issues after she leaves the administration. I'm guessing she figures she'll have enough political capital left in 2009 to keep NCLB intact well past President Bush's last day in office. Maybe even past 2010.


GREAT NEWS about Margaret

100% proficiency is NOT a fantasy. First research has already established that students with normal IQs (>70 and up), regardless of a disability or economic backgrounds, can become proficient IF provided with the RIGHT instruction.
Second, proficiency does not mean that every student read, write and perform math with the ability that ranks at the 100%. For example, with reading more states are moving towards more concretely measurable ways to determine proficiency by using the Lexile ratings, which measures the complexity of written information. Using the Lexile rating system, it means the student is reading within the Lexile level determined for their grade.
I have a child who ranked at the 23% in math on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. He is now at the 89% rank nationally and the 90% compared with students in our state. This turn around took place as a result of a teacher that was trained in both in college prep high school math (geometry, algebra, trig and calculus) and specialized in teaching students with dyslexia. It did not take more money or more time. It requires that teachers have training, knowledge and skills that relate to teaching students who learn differently AND not to dilute instruction as is done by educators who do not have the background to teach these types of students.
This experience has been pivotal for my son. He now knows that he can learn. He LOVES math, he feels competent doing math. He now wants to be an engineer. Now we just need to find a reading teacher that has the same specialization this math teacher did. Universities need to step up and provide teachers with the information they need to do this. A 2006 research paper written by the National Council on Teacher Quality at www.nctq.org is a great read and explains the crux of what teachers need to be taught about reading in our teaching colleges in order to reach this goal.

WE CAN DO IT! I have seen this done already.

The information to achieve this is out there. It has been out there it just needs to make it into the teaching colleges.

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