Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings says she will soon propose rules that would require all states to use the same formula to calculate high schools' graduation rates. She said she would require schools to disaggregate data by socioeconomic status, race, and other categories—just as schools are required to do for test scores under NCLB. She announced the plan in a speech she delivered at an event kicking off a series of summits on drop outs sponsored by America's Promise Alliance. But she left many questions unanswered. What formula will she propose that states use, I asked her after her ...


First growth models, then differentiated accountability. It appears as if Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings' next target is graduation rates. Spellings will appear at an event tomorrow sponsored by the America's Promise Alliance. The group will release a new report analyzing dropout data and will announce it will sponsor "dropout summits" in 50 states and 50 cities. In her speech, Spellings will announce she believes there's "a need for a more comprehensive and precise definition of graduation rate," says Department of Education news release promoting the event. On a more important (and personal note), if I get a chance to ...


"Troublemaker" Checker Finn, at right, believes that NCLB's reauthorization is stalled because of five fallacies. He says it's a myth that the law is underfunded, and he questions whether it has led to teaching to the test. "If the test is an honest measure of a solid curriculum," he writes in Sunday's Washington Post, "then teaching kids the skills and knowledge they need to pass it is honorable work." Whether you agree with him on those points, I'd be interested to hear reaction to his succinct summary of the problems with the law's standards. Compromises needed to pass NCLB left ...


Back in 2000, Republican presidential candidates courted foreign policy expert Condoleezza Rice, right, to advise them. One thing that appealed to the Russia expert about George Bush was his proposal to give "equal opportunity to black and white students" under NCLB. That's what the secretary of state tells The Washington Times in an interview published today. (Note: Rice's remarks about NCLB are on the jump of the story. They aren't included in the video that goes with the story.)...


In my first entry of 2008, I wrote that state legislators were going to put NCLB in their sights. Virginia already has passed a bill that would require the state board to consider opting out of the law, though I predicted that board members would find more than 400 million reasons (aka dollars) to stay with the law. Now, anti-NCLB bills are moving in Minnesota and Arizona. In Arizona yesterday, the House passed a bill that would require the state to leave NCLB by July 1, 2010. Rep. David Schapira, the Democrat who sponsored the bill, estimates that the state ...


Yesterday, I reported that the Department of Education had approved 29 states' standards and assessment plans. I based that on my reading of decision letters on the department's Web site. Since then, I've gotten clarification on where states stand. All told, 31 states have received the Department of Education's "full approval" or "approval with recommendations," Chad Colby, a department spokesman, told me in an e-mail. All of them will qualify to participate in the pilot project on "differential accountability." Colby wrote that four states and the District of Columbia are in the "approval expected" category. They probably will have their ...


In a new report, the Government Accountability Office says that states are allocating their own money to help schools failing to make AYP under NCLB. The GAO estimates that since 2002 states used $2.6 billion of their own money for school improvement efforts. That's double the $1.3 billion that states are required to set aside for school improvement from NCLB's Title I. States also are using money from federal programs other than Title I to aid those schools. GAO also that not all states can document how their schools are spending their Title I money for school improvement. ...


Last week, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings traveled to St. Paul, Minn., to announce that she would offer up to 10 states the chance to "differentiate accountability" under NCLB. She didn't mention in her speech that Minnesota wouldn't qualify. The state hasn't won the feds' approval for its testing system—one of four criteria participating states must meet. In her speech, though, Spellings said she would give preference to states that have been "pioneers for reform." She lauded Louisiana, Maryland, North Dakota, and South Dakota for their accountability systems and Massachusetts for its standards. But two of those states—Louisiana...


The response to the "differentiated accountability" project shows one truth about NCLB: It's hard to please everybody. Looking at reaction from the left and the right on Capitol Hill, you see tepid endorsements for the plan, followed by criticism of the law itself. From the right, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, called the pilot project "a good step forward," but added that it doesn't go far enough. In his statement, Cornyn touted his bill, S. 893, that would give states "maximum freedom" to design their own initiatives in five-year performance contracts. The bill has the support of conservative senators—but not ...


Yesterday, I pointed out that people as diverse as Margaret Spellings and Randi Weingarten are floating ideas that will inform NCLB's reauthorization. Today, I can report that some old hands in Washington are thinking of way to do the same thing. At a panel discussion organized by Education Sector, Jack Jennings said that his Center on Education Policy is organizing a group that will recommend new directions for federal K-12 policy. "We're going to fundamentally rethink the federal role in education," said Jennings, who worked for House Democrats from 1967 through 1994 and has been the Center on Education Policy's ...


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