NCLB's prospects for 2008 appear to be fading. Even Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings has her doubts the law will be reauthorized this year. "I hope that it will get done. I don't know. But I certainly am not going to put all my eggs in that basket," Spellings said last week during her visit to Austin, Texas. Spellings joins Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif., in questioning whether NCLB will pass this year. He said last week the situation "doesn't look very favorable." Back in January, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., told people he was working on a bill ...


On the question of whether NCLB is narrowing schools' curriculum, put Sen. Barack Obama in the yes column. In a Feb. 28 appearance in Beaumont, Texas, the Illinois Democrat is emphatic on the point. (Below, watch the video his campaign posted on YouTube.) "Since the only thing that's being tested is math and reading, we're not teaching children a broad range of things," he said at a rally in Beaumont, Texas, on Feb. 28. "I want kids to learn art and music and history and civics and a whole host of other things." Broadening the curriculum will yield dividends, he ...


Can the nation meet NCLB's goal of universal proficiency? Yes, says Deputy Secretary of Education Raymond J. Simon. No, say Michael Rebell and Jessica Wolff of the Campaign for Educational Equity. In a speech this week to the British Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce, Simon said that he's visited schools that already have achieved 100 percent proficiency. "These schools believe that their students can achieve to high standards. These standards, and the expected behavior to reach them, are clearly communicated to the students and their parents. Highly qualified, effective teachers use data to guide instruction daily ...


Regular readers may have noticed that I haven't reported anything about the House's progress on an NCLB bill. That's because there's not much to report, according to Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif., the senior Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee. Rep. McKeon, at right, hasn't had a substantive conversation about NCLB with Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the committee's chairman, since October. "We're in a climate where it doesn't look very favorable to get the reauthorization done," McKeon told the Education Industry Association at a breakfast this morning in Washington. The prospects don't look much better in the ...


Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings might be best known for her assertion that NCLB is 99.9 percent pure. (That, and her collection of eyeglasses.) She later backtracked, saying she meant the goals and structure of the law are close to perfect, even if some of its details need fixing. Last week in Kansas, Spellings acknowledged that the requirement that states identify "persistently dangerous schools" isn't working. State officials have been reluctant to label schools as such, she said. The secretary's position lines up with a Department of Education advisory group and the views of Democrats who have tried to ...


The debate over whether NCLB has narrowed schools' curricula has a new player—a group called Common Core. "Everyone’s children deserve to receive a comprehensive, content-rich education in the liberal arts and sciences," Lynne Munson, the group's executive director, writes in the introduction of a report released by the group today. "Of course they must be able to read and compute. But they must also possess real knowledge about important things, knowledge of civics, biology, geography, art history, languages—the full range of subjects that comprise a complete education." Among the group's trustees are Antonia Cortese, an executive...


As I noted earlier, several of the National Education Association's allies don't like the union's legal position in its suit against Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. Michael Rebell, a successful school finance litigator, suggested in his blog that states could use the union's unfunded mandate claims as reasons to cut spending. Now, a coalition of civil rights groups is trying to make a similar argument to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, which is considering the federal government's appeal in Pontiac v. Spellings. "The panel opinion invites states that are struggling with their budgets to try ...


How would NCLB change if a Democrat were in the Oval Office next year? The Democratic candidates say they would continue holding schools accountable, but they would radically change the types of tests used to measure schools' success, according to the rhetoric of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. Sen. Obama wants tests that "track student progress for college and the workplace and improve student learning in a timely, individualized manner," his campaign Web site says. Sen. Clinton believes that tests should provide "individualized accountability based on how [individual] students do," she said at a ...


Some advocates have been lobbying to make high school graduation rates part of NCLB's accountability system. The current emphasis on test scores gives high schools the incentive to shove low-scoring students out instead of addressing their achievement issues, they assert. A new study out of Texas bolsters their case. The Rice University Center for Education tracked 271,000 students in one unnamed Texas city and found "strong association between high-stakes accountability and dropping out," according to this summary. "This study has serious implications for the nation’s schools under the NCLB law," the summary concludes. "It finds that the higher ...


Over the past month, the wonkish education bloggers have been debating whether NCLB has had the effect of narrowing school curriculum. (See Sherman Dorn's excellent analytic summary, and eduwonk's recent postscript.) The debate hinged, in part, on the interpretation of one piece of data: 44 percent of districts have increased the amount of time spent on reading and mathematics at the expense of other subjects. The Center on Education Policy—the source of that data—is out with what it calls "a deeper analysis" of its survey. Here's a quick snapshot: Some districts are finding time for additional reading ...


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