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Should the New ESEA Go Beyond State Tests?

Way back in 2007, when Congress tried to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act, one of the most contentious debates was over whether states and schools should be allowed to use "multiple measures" (aka, anything other than state standardized tests) to count for Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP.

Well, now that lawmakers are sorta, kinda, probably, gonna try to reauthorize the law, sometime soonish, folks are beginning to revisit the question of whether it makes sense to count other kinds of measures (i.e. portfolios, local tests, number of AP courses taken) into accountability systems.

Right now, it turns out that 20 states that rated schools over the past couple years considered a bunch of areas beyond the state tests required under the NCLB law, including college-readiness measures (like scores on the ACT) and student performance on tests in other subjects, such as history. That's according to a report on the topic commissioned by the Sandler Foundation, a national non-profit that works to improve student learning environments. The research was conducted by the Rand Corporation, based in Santa Monica, Calif.

The report also recommended that the newly reauthorized ESEA include some new areas of accountability, such as looking both at current test scores and student growth over time, as well as looking at whether students are on track to graduate from high school. Check out the whole thing here.

The report was unveiled at an event sponsored by the Sandler Foundation and the Learning First Alliance, whose members include a bunch of groups that have been cheerleaders for multiple measures in the past, such as the American Association of School Adminstrators and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

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