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Spellings Picks Six States for Differentiated Accountability

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Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings today announced that six states won her approval to participate in the differentiated accountability pilot project. The lucky states are Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, and Ohio. Here's the department's press release.

"The plans these states submitted speak to the fact that many were among the first to embrace data-based decision making and accountability," Spellings said, according to remarks prepared for her to give at the Education Commission of the States' conference in Austin, Texas.

You can read all of the state applications at the Department of Education's Web site or Chad Aldeman's summary of applications submitted by the 17 states that wanted to participate in the program.

Although Spellings lauded the six states in the program, she wasn't happy that more states didn't submit plans worthy of her approval.

"I'm also discouraged that more states didn't take this as an opportunity to take more dramatic action to improve schools that have not met reasonable goals for multiple years running," she said. "We need more states to be pioneers in advancing positive change."

2 Comments

Anyone able to share with this reader how a teacher would utilize differentiated instruction for a high school with its focus on football and drama? That is the case with the only school in our district that has failed to make AYP, again. This year some students will qualify for supplemental services in addition to school choice.
Now, say what you will, but down here in our fine community the folks, including parents, and the school system, remain silent about failing test scores and the report card when it comes to this particular high school. (Which happens to be the high school with the highest percentage of students of minority and poverty status) Academics does not appear to be the priority as all of the aforementioned groups celebrate state football championships and many honors the kids receive at the state level for the finest drama displayed in all the land.
Unfortunately, it may be that this "new differentiated loop hole" just ruined any chances of our district to seriously consider charter schools.

Correction; this variation in the NCLB Act is about differentiated accountability, and not differentiated instruction as you responded. For the record, you can have differentiated instruction in football and drama once you carefully identify your students’ readiness level (i.e., their interest in the subject and their individual performance level).

Using a three-tired system, students at

• Level One - would require intensive intervention when severe, long-standing deficiencies are identified (e.g., bringing in a specialist or additional training after regular hours or weekends or year-round);

• Level Two - would require a corrective action in the form of specialized drills to resolve persistent weaknesses (e.g., voice training, ball catching); and

• Level Three - would require preventative measures such as the review of only those skills for which there is a deficiency (e.g., skits or scrimmages).

The same principle applies at the school level with differentiated accountability, where the school must make sure that all its student groups, including the poor and minorities, are given an equal opportunity to be properly educated in order to succeed not only for themselves but for their community and this nation, without barriers or artificial limits.

Football and drama are cool, but if your school is not about reading and mathematics, it may need to get out of the education business and recast itself as a community center. Unfortunately, when you do so, you will have to determine what society is going to do with the children that have little or no interest or aptitude in football and/or drama.

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