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What Do Principals, Teachers Want in an NCLB Rewrite?

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., asked the edu-world to submit comments on draft legislation for rewriting the No Child Left Behind Act by Feb. 2. And unsurprisingly, the responses had poured in as of Tuesday's deadline, although not all have been released publicly just yet.

So what do various groups want? Here's a quick sample:

  • The American Federation of Teachers wants to keep annual assessments in the new version of the law, but only have the tests "count" for accountability purposes in certain grades. They also want parents to have an opt-out option. Plus, the union is really unhappy that the bill would freeze funding for Title I, the main program in the NCLB law for educating disadvantaged kids. And the union has said it wants Alexander to keep language in the original NCLB law outlining paraprofessional qualifications. More from Stephen Sawchuk of Teacher Beat fame.
  • A coalition of disabilities, business, and civil rights organizations (so pretty much the same cast of characters that came together to help pass the orginal NCLB law back in 2001) want a new version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to continue requiring annual assessments and disaggregation of student data. They also want states to set specific targets (or goals) for student achievement and specific interventions for schools that fall short of them. States should also be held accountable for ensuring that traditionally overlooked groups of students, such as English-language learners, improve faster than their peers. The letter was signed by the Education Trust, the Chamber of Commerce, the National Council of La Raza, the Business Roundtable, the National Center for Learning Disabilities, the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, and Democrats for Education Reform.
  • The Large Countywide and Suburban District Consortium must have read the Council of Chief State School Officer's recommendations on NCLB revision—and agreed with them. The consortium—which includes some big, celebrated districts like Montgomery County, Md., and Gwinnett County, Ga.,—wants to keep annual, statewide assessments, but allow for district experimentation through local pilot projects that could eventually expand and form the basis of new testing systems, which is pretty much what the chiefs are after.
  • Groups representing school leaders—including the American Federation of School Administrators, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, and the National Association of Secondary School Principalssee the draft as a mixed bag. The groups like the push for state flexibility, and are really happy to see the end of the Obama administration's school turnaround program, which called for, among other dramatic steps, getting rid of principals of foundering schools.
  • But the principals' groups are really unhappy that states could transfer money out of programs for teachers and leaders and into programs for school climate and safety. And they don't like the elimination of the School Leadership program, which was geared toward principal development. They're also not fans of a provision that would allow states to use Title I funding for public school choice.
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