June 2008 Archives

If you think NCLB is harsh, take a look at new English policies. In its new "National Challenge," the Ministry of Education recently announced that it will shut down secondary schools that don't meet specific test-score targets. By 2011, the goal is for every school to have 30 percent of its student body passing tests in five subjects in the General Certificate of Secondary Education. That may sound like an easy goal. (After all, states' high school exit exams assess subject matter that is less rigorous than what's expected of high school graduates.) But it's not. If the rules went ...


Oklahoma City teacher John Thompson took over the Core Knowledge blog yesterday. Thompson, a serial commenter here and elsewhere, has this to say about NCLB: "Educational reformers often act like a team that is down by several touchdowns late in the game. We abandon any semblance of a game plan and throw one desperation pass after another, creating turnovers and making things worse. When our school addressed the challenge of NCLB by instituting high stakes benchmark testing, the argument was, 'We have tried everything else. Why not try this?' We learned the hard way. On the other hand, it ...


Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings wrote appropriators yesterday in a last-ditch effort to save Reading First. She cites the department's data on reading comprehension and urges legislators to talk with educators on the ground about the program. "You may find, as I have, that the program has helped raise expectations and prepare students, including English language learners and students with disabilities, for academic success," she wrote. The effort is "too little, too late," Mike Petrilli writes. In a new blog (via TWIE), reading expert Timothy Shanahan is already thinking about what can replace the program. This three-step process would be: ...


Yesterday's Washington Post included a special advertising section on education issues sponsored by the National Education Association. (Memo to Mike Antonucci: Can you find out how much that cost?) The editorial content included a Reg Weaver column covering the bottom half of the front page and short essays by a who's who of Education Week sources (Linda Darling-Hammond and George Wood on the "Democracy at Risk" report; Jacob E. Adams Jr. and Kati Haycock on school finance; Richard Ingersoll on teacher quality). The one that caught my eye was written by Richard W. Riley, the secretary of education for all ...


The possibility that Congress would suspend NCLB's accountability rules brought supporters of the law out of the woodwork. Over at Swift & Changable, Charlie Barone says that civil rights' community's nearly unanimous opposition to the suspension was unprecedented in the history of NCLB. Today, the Public Education Network released a poll that sheds some light on the reason why. Although the poll focuses on where education stands in the current political debate, the response to one of its questions shows that the minority community likes NCLB. Forty-one percent of blacks and 39 percent of Hispanics believe that NCLB has helped improve ...


Reading First wouldn't get any money from the Senate, Alyson Klein reports in from the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee markup. The program also has a '0' in its column in the bill awaiting action in House Appropriations Committee on Thursday. Just two years ago, Reading First received $1 billion. Now, with no money in either chamber's bill, the program's future looks grim. Alyson is hard at work on a story that will appear on edweek.org later today....


"Has student achievement increased since 2002," the Center on Education Policy asks in its latest report. The short answer is: Yes. On state tests, the increases are greater than on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The achievement gap between whites and minorities narrowed more often than not across the states, the report says. If you want to see how your state shapes up, CEP has snapshots of all the states. But does that mean NCLB is the reason for the increase? Not necessarily. Even though the report bills itself as "the most comprehensive, intensive, and carefully constructed study" of ...


Has Reading First helped elementary students improve their reading comprehension? Not really, says the Institute of Education Sciences. Yes, says the secretary of education, who is one of the program's biggest cheerleaders. Margaret Spellings today released an analysis of Reading First data that says 38 states report reading comprehension gains among 1st graders whose schools received money from the program. A similar percentage of states report increases in comprehension in grades 2 and 3, as well as among English language learners and students with disabilities. These numbers are at odds with the report released last month by the department's research ...


Alyson Klein just called in from this morning's subcommittee markup of the fiscal 2009 appropriations bill for the education, labor, and health and human service departments. Here's what she reports: It doesn't sound as if The plan to suspend NCLB accountability is included in the appropriations bill. Sources tell me that Rep. Dave Obey, D-Wis., chairman of the Appropriations Committee, nixed the bill after Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., voiced his objections to it. You can read what the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee told Alyson in her post from yesterday. The debate over the idea of suspending ...


From contributing blogger Alyson Klein: So, if you needed any more proof that reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act is absolutely, definitely not happening this year, take a look at the version of an environmental education bill that the House Education and Labor Committee approved today, with overwhelming bipartisan support. The bill, dubbed the No Child Left Inside Act by its sponsor, Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., originally would have made $100 million in grants available to schools to bolster environmental education and was designed to be part of the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind. But the measure ...


A couple of small news items from today .... 1.) A federal judge in San Francisco yesterday ruled that NCLB gives the U.S. secretary of education latitude to declare teachers who are in training for an alternative certification as highly qualified. The decision rejects a group's lawsuit trying to nullify California's definition of a highly qualified teacher. In response, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings' press secretary sent me a statement. "The decision concluded that our regulation is consistent with the No Child Left Behind Act, and allows districts throughout the nation—particularly those in high-need areas—to meet the demand...


A new study documents the steady improvement of low-achieving students (who are disproportionately African-American, Hispanic, or other minorities) in the NCLB era and the small gains made by high achievers (who are disproportionately white or Asian-American). The achievement gap between them is narrowing. "The general pattern is one of all boats rising; but the boats at the 10th percentile rose more than those at the 90th percentile," Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institution writes in the new report from the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation. In a survey of 900 teachers, 24 percent said that attention and resources dedicated to gifted ...


On Friday, David Brooks asked which one of last week's statements on education policy Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., would endorse. Would it be the one that called for a "broader, bolder approach" or the Education Equality Project's call to ramp up school accountability? I wondered the same thing. I exchanged e-mails with Danielle Gray, the deputy policy director of the Obama campaign (thanks to Alyson Klein for the introduction). Here's what I found out (other than Gray reads Campaign K-12): Sen. Obama likes both statements. (You can read Gray's comments and the rest of my reporting on both statements in ...


Commenting on my post from Friday, Monty Neil of FairTest notes that not all civil rights groups will oppose the bill to suspend sanctions under NCLB. He's right. I should have written that "some" civil rights groups are going to fight the bill. To see which ones, read Charlie Barone's post. At the FairTest site, you can see the civil rights groups that are likely to support H.R. 6239. At BoardBuzz, you can read why the National School Boards Association supports the bill. It would "make sure schools do not continue to be subject to mislabeling and costly sanctions ...


Back when President Bush and top Democrats were declaring NCLB reauthorization to be a top priority, who would have thought that the most important NCLB bill introduced in this Congress would be by a low-profile House member who doesn't sit on an education committee? Things may be shaping up that way. This week, Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., introduced H.R. 6239, the NCLB Recess Until Reauthorization Act. H.R. 6239 would suspend NCLB's accountability measures for one year or until Congress reauthorizes the law. In other words, in the 2007-08 school year, states wouldn't publish AYP results . Rep. Timothy J. ...


Governors say the Department of Education's proposal to require states to use the same method of calculating graduation rates isn't ready to be implemented. Read the National Governors Association's comments at the NGA Web site. The deadline for comments on the April 23 rules package is coming up. If you want to pass along comments on graduation rates or any other issue, e-mail them to me at [email protected]


Lisa Graham Keegan sat down with Michele McNeil and a bunch of reporters this morning to explain where Sen. John McCain of Arizona stands on education. Keegan, the top education adviser to the presumptive Republican nominee, had a lot to say about NCLB funding, school choice, and intervening in low-performing schools. Read all about it over at Campaign K-12....


Another day, another big statement from education leaders. Today's comes from a coalition called the Education Equality Project, which has been formed by New York City Chancellor Joel I. Klein and citizen activist Al Sharpton. Unlike "Broader, Bolder" approach released yesterday, the coalition's statement focuses exclusively on the education policies needed to improve educational achievement. It doesn't mention that social programs should assist schools, as the "Broader, Bolder" statement did. "We don't know yet what schools can achieve," Klein said at a news conference announcing the coalition's formation. "Some schools today are getting entirely different outcomes with the very same ...


Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings made news of her own today. She announced that Michigan and Missouri will be allowed to use growth models. Michigan can start now, but Missouri has to adopt the same 'n' for all subgroups before it can change over to growth. Spellings has approved 11 states in the growth model pilot—the secretary's first and biggest effort to provide flexibility under NCLB. States will have one last chance to win Spellings' approval in the growth-model pilot. She's calling for applications again in the fall and will approve the last ones before she hands over the ...


Three quick things before I run off and spend the day in downtown D.C. 1. The Center for American Progress holds a one-day conference today on the teacher comparability rules in NCLB's Title I. The center says that the rules are "intended to ensure that federal funds are added to an already-level playing field of state and local funding for schools," but they have "been ineffective and enforced inconsistently." For a primer about how districts sometimes unknowingly funnel Title I dollars to affluent areas, read a story Bess Keller wrote last year and one I wrote back in 2005. ...


Friday's face-off between education advisers left a lot of us wanting more. Jeanne Century of the Obama campaign and Lisa Graham Keegan of the McCain campaign gave an overview of their candidates' stands on NCLB and other education issues. But they didn't clear explanations on some nitty-gritty policy questions. At Campaign K-12, Alyson Klein complains about their lack of specificity, but highlights their differences on teacher performance pay, funding, and Reading First—all issues at the heart of NCLB's future. At USA Today's political blog, Greg Toppo says their proposed fixes for NCLB are ones "only education wonks can appreciate."...


Ed Week's self-appointed ombudsman Mike Petrilli alerts everyone that NEA is advertising its newest podcast/blog here and on other blogs on this site. (Hey, Mike, edweek.org wouldn't take advertising, either, if we had an endowment paying our salaries.) But anyway. Joel. I've like what the commenters are saying on your site. MM has some questions for you over at Campaign K-12. Here's one I'll add: How do you feel about John McCain's top education adviser, Lisa Graham Keegan, saying one test is enough to make accountability decisions? (Thanks to Jim Horn for the link.) Oh, wait, I just ...


Charlie Barone's reacts to the Center on Education Policy's report warning that some states will ask schools to make "rapid and steep jumps" in student achievement. (See Steep Climb to NCLB Goal for 23 States.) Barone's headline: "100% Bull$#!%" In the item, he explains that schools will be able to get around the achievement goals through a safe harbor. Under safe harbor, a school can make AYP by producing a 10 percentage point decrease in students who are not proficient in any subgroup or subject matter where the school fell short of its AYP goals in the previous year. "Safe ...


The National Association of Secondary School Principals is the latest group to endorse national standards. In a position statement released yesterday, the group is calling on Congress to establish an independent group of experts to create national standards and "authentic, reliable" national assessments. They also ask for federal money to underwrite states' work to implement the standards and to pay for the administration of the national exams. Add NASSP to the growing list of education groups that are endorsing national standards. The most prominent so far are the Council of Chief State School Officers and the Council of the Great ...


Last fall, Madison, Wis., teacher David Wasserman was reprimanded for refusing to proctor a state test with high-stakes implications under NCLB. This spring, Seattle teacher Carl Chew was suspended after he refused to give the Washington state tests. Chew explains the reasons for his protest in this item. But now the stakes are getting higher. Last week, a North Carolina school board fired special education teacher Doug Ward because he had informed them he wouldn't be giving the state tests to the severely disabled students in his class. Even though the test was adapted to measure disabled students' performance, Ward ...


The NEA's NCLB guru, Joel Packer, is the newest voice in the education blogosphere. He's posted three podcasts and their transcripts under a banner ad that brags: "Joel Packer Has All the Answers." The education bloggers' club has read Packer's first three entries and is offering (mostly predictable) reactions. Sherman Dorn says the blog's name is "a bit disconcerting" because Packer can't possibly have "all the answers." Alexander Russo says giving Packer a blog is "a wise move" for the NEA. Eduwonk crowns Packer as the "Washington's top anti-NCLB propagandist." At the bottom of a post on Barack Obama's education ...


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