NCLB's accountability measures are changing the way schools meet the needs of students, especially minorities, according to researchers. "NCLB provides new incentives for schools to improve these students' performance, and it seems like schools are doing so," David Figlio of Northwestern University wrote in yesterday's chat on edweek.org. But the overall impact of federal and state accountability systems depends on the leadership of the principal and the individual choices of teachers, according to research published today. In one study of 245 elementary schools in California, Melissa Henne and Heeju Jang of the University of California, Berkeley, found that the ...


Contrary to my assertion that there was "nothing happening," I came back from vacation to find newsy tidbits in my inbox and on my RSS feed. None of them were better than a day at the beach, but they're worth listing here. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings gave seven states the ability to offer tutoring one year before school choice for schools failing to make AYP. I'm guessing that civil right activists are unhappy that Alabama is one of them. Spellings also created the National Technical Advisory Council, which will evaluate states' accountability systems. The panel includes the usual potpourri ...


The New York Times editorial board lauds the stand that civil rights groups have taken against a bill to halt NCLB's accountability. (Perhaps they saw this.) Reading the editorial, I realized: One of the most important things that happened to NCLB this year was an effort to stop something from happening. Kind of hard to keep a blog going under those circumstances. I'm giving up. For the next two weeks at least. I'm headed off on vacation. The blog will be up and running again on Aug. 18. (You can get the next item delivered to your e-mail box. See ...


Which students are improving fastest in the NCLB era: those at the top or the bottom of the achievement ladder? The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation issued a report last month suggesting that the test scores of those in the bottom 10 percent of achievement are rising faster than those in the top 10 percent. The study cited scores from the state version of the National Assessment of Educational Progress. When the report came out, I asked: Doesn't this mean NCLB is working as intended? But the Think Tank Review Project—made up of self-appointed gadflies in their own right—asked...


With NCLB on the back burner until next year, Rep. Michael N. Castle, R-Del., has introduced a bill that could be the starting point for discussion in 2009. The bill includes lots of ideas from the bipartisan discussion draft that leaders of the House Education and Labor Committee released last year, according to this press release issued jointly by Castle and Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif. They are the most important Republicans on the education committee. According to a summary on Castle's Web site, the bill would: 1.) Require states to rewrite their standards to make them compatible with ...


Time is reporting that NCLB is on track for a quick reauthorization in the next Congress. The Democratic Congress has done the background work for NCLB and children's health insurance. If the Dems add to their majority, as expected, they should be able to move both issues through the legislative process, the article says. The article assumes that congressional Democrats will be united on NCLB issues. But in the past two months, it's become clear that Democratic interest groups disagree on the law's most important details. See the dueling statements from the "Broader, Bolder" and Klein/Sharpton crowds. And look ...


NEA President Reg Weaver defends the Graves-Walz bill to freeze accountability in yesterday's Wall Street Journal. In a letter to the editor, Weaver writes the bill is a "common-sense, moderate approach to NCLB's current system of snapshot, multiple-choice tests." He adds that NEA is working with education, civil rights, and other organizations to change NCLB. He's referring to the Forum on Educational Accountability. Yes, some civil rights groups are part of the forum. But many more—including the biggest ones—came out against the Graves-Walz bill. Take a look at the following paragraph from the June 18 letter circulated...


Laura Bush defends NCLB in USA Today. Sorry I didn't get to this earlier. I was doing something else. Don't believe me: I'm in the background early in this video....


I know you all want to know about Richard Simmons on the Hill today. Let's get the wonkery out of the way. The FIT Kids Act has a chance of getting through the House this year, Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis., one of its sponsors, said today. Kind and Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., agreed to drop sections of the bill that would make physical education one of multiple measures to be considered under NCLB's accountability system. Without that, the bill still would require states to report on the amount and quality of PE offered in their schools, as well as effort ...


Richard Simmons is coming to Washington tomorrow. And the media frenzy has already started. He appeared on local news this morning, joking around but sounding serious when he talked about his mission to save PE. USA Today reports that the "fitness fireball" promises to be a combination of "Norma Rae and Johnny Appleseed" when he touts the FIT Kids Act to the House Education and Labor Committee tomorrow. On Monday's edition of NPR's "Tell Me More," Simmons talks about fighting obesity as a child and describes how he's always been "a clown and court jester." He promises to be funny ...


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