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Articles tagged with NCLB

NSBA: Do not force Washington schools to send school failure letters under NCLB

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is urging the U.S. Department of Education to exempt Washington’s education agency from the 14-day requirement to issue letters informing parents of school choice options for schools deemed “failing” under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

Many of Washington’s public schools will be labeled as “failing” this year from what are widely considered unfair and punitive NCLB sanctions this spring. Washington had received a waiver from the most punitive requirements, but the Department of Education revoked that waiver when state lawmakers refused to change the state’s teacher evaluation system earlier this year.

Forcing Washington’s public schools to issue such letters is counterproductive because many schools are making significant progress, and the action would erode residents’ trust in public schools, the letter warns.

“Imposing this requirement on Washington’s schools is a disservice that could hurt the morale of students, erode community confidence, affect support from business partners, impact the ability to attract and retain effective teachers and leaders, and reduce other resources that benefit the students,” NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel wrote.

For instance, the letters would negatively impact voting on bond issues and levies for capital improvement projects to improve school infrastructure and provide 21st century learning environments, and hurt schools’ abilities to sustain and build support from businesses and industry, the letter states.

“Instead of supporting Washington’s schools and students, the Department would be damaging the very progress that Washington’s school boards, administrators, teachers and staff, parents, businesses and communities have achieved for their students,” Gentzel wrote.

Here’s the full letter:

Dear Secretary Duncan:

The National School Boards Association, representing over 90,000 local school board members through our state associations, urges your swift consideration to exempt the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) from the 14-day notice requirement regarding public school choice for the upcoming school year.

The letters that are currently required would convey a great level of ambiguity about the condition of many schools, labeling them as failing. Conversely, several schools have made significant gains in raising student achievement, from graduation rates and reading proficiency to parental involvement. In fact, the Department has acknowledged school districts in Washington for their success in improving educational opportunities and outcomes for their students. Hence, the 14-day letters would be counterproductive to the students, schools, and communities, especially when there are extremely limited school choice options in the state.

Imposing this requirement on Washington’s schools is a disservice that could hurt the morale of students, erode community confidence, affect support from business partners, impact the ability to attract and retain effective teachers and leaders, and reduce other resources that benefit the students. For example, several communities are slated to consider bond issues and levies for capital improvement projects to improve school infrastructure and provide 21st century learning environments. What good would the letters do in supporting these community efforts? They would discourage citizens and community support instead of fostering the very resources the Department encourages within states and communities. Additionally, what purpose would the letters serve in helping Washington’s schools sustain and build support from businesses and industry in securing partnerships for programs such as Career and Technical Education or arts and humanities? Would the letters influence these and other decisions?

Instead of supporting Washington’s schools and students, the Department would be damaging the very progress that Washington’s school boards, administrators, teachers and staff, parents, businesses and communities have achieved for their students.

Therefore, we urge you to exempt Washington’s school districts from this requirement. Please contact Reginald M. Felton, Interim Associate Executive Director, at (703) 838-6782, or rfelton@nsba.org, regarding any further information about this request. We appreciate your consideration and look forward to working closely with you throughout this process.

 

Sincerely,
/s/

Thomas J. Gentzel
Executive Director, NSBA

Joetta Sack-Min|July 18th, 2014|Categories: Federal Programs, Federal Advocacy, No Child Left Behind|Tags: , , , |

Washington state seeks NCLB exemption

The Washington State School Directors’ Association (WSSDA) is asking the U.S. Department of Education (ED) for an exemption to a requirement that would cause almost every school district in Washington to send letters to parents stating that their schools are failing.

ED imposed the “failing” schools letter requirement when it cancelled the state’s waiver exempting it from funding penalties for not meeting the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Forty-three states and the District of Columbia have been granted such waivers, and none are expected to meet their adequate yearly progress (AYP) requirements under NCLB, but Washington state is the first to have its waiver revoked.

WSSDA says that while districts would be required to send the “failing” schools letters out to parents at least 14 days before the start of school, finalization of the year’s AYP measures for districts will last well into August, and some schools are scheduled to open before the end of the month.

“Many of these schools have been recognized for improved graduation rates, closing achievement gaps, high scores on national tests like the ACT and SAT and other signs of excellence,” said David Iseminger, a Lake Stevens school director and member of the WSSDA Board of Directors. “That 14-day letter does nothing to further any education goals. In fact, it does quite the opposite.”

Margaret Suslick|July 2nd, 2014|Categories: School Boards, State School Boards Associations, No Child Left Behind|Tags: , |

House approves NSBA-backed local flexibility measure in ESEA bill

The U.S. House of Representatives began debate on H.R. 5, the Student Success Act, the House’s version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The National School Boards Association (NSBA) was pleased that an amendment on local school district flexibility that includes key provisions of NSBA’s bill, the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act, H.R. 1386, passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a 239-187 vote on July 18. The amendment was put forth by Reps. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) and Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.), and additional provisions of NSBA’s bill were included in the bill the Committee on Education and the Workforce took to the floor.

H.R. 5, with local school district flexibility amendment, focuses on specifically ensuring that the U.S. Department of Education does not encroach on local school board governance.

On Wednesday, NSBA sent letters to all House members to urge them to support H.R. 5.

H.R. 5, “makes significant improvements to restore greater flexibility and governance to local educational agencies that will enable these agencies to better meet the unique needs and conditions of their local schools and students. It also re-affirms the appropriate roles and responsibilities between the Executive and Legislative Branches of government that are vital to the representative decision-making at the federal level that under girds public education as a democratic institution across all three levels of government,” the letter stated.

NSBA is opposed to Rep. Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) Title I portability amendment as it would require school districts to reallocate Title I funds on a per-pupil basis and set up a system of public school choice. The vote on that amendment is expected on July 19.

NSBA wants to thank school board members for contacting their members of Congress. On July 19, please call your representative at (202) 224-3121 (Capitol switchboard) and follow-up with a letter to vote NO on the Cantor Title I portability amendment and YES for final passage of the bill. The consideration of additional amendments continues through Friday.

Alexis Rice|July 18th, 2013|Categories: School Boards, Educational Legislation, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, School Vouchers, Federal Advocacy, No Child Left Behind|Tags: , , |

Local flexibility is needed in ESEA reauthorization, says NSBA

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is asking the U.S. Senate to make changes in its legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), commonly known as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). On Tuesday, June 11, the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) will mark-up this bill.

NSBA sent a letter to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Chairman of the HELP Committee, and Sen. Lamar Alexander, the ranking minority member. The letter notes NSBA is pleased that the Senate is taking action on the much-needed reauthorization. However, NSBA is concerned that some provisions in the bill would create a much larger federal role that would hamper school districts’ innovation and flexibility, and other provisions that would create additional bureaucracies at the expense of student achievement.

“NSBA is unable to support the legislation in its current form and urges that the bill be revised and brought back to committee,” the letter states. “Local educational agencies remain very concerned that this bill contains many requirements that must be redesigned or eliminated due to their negative impact on improving academic success as well as whether they are operationally and fiscally workable.”

Alexis Rice|June 10th, 2013|Categories: School Boards, Federal Programs, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Student Achievement, Policy Formation, Legislative advocacy, Federal Advocacy, No Child Left Behind|Tags: , , , |

ESEA Reauthorization key for NSBA this year

Urging Congress to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)—and seeking sponsors for a bill to shield local school board control from federal intrusion —are key initiatives of NSBA this year.

That was the message delivered by Reginald Felton, NSBA’s assistant executive director for congressional relations, at a Monday policy briefing at the Federal Relations Network (FRN) meeting in Washington, D.C.

When school leaders visit Capitol Hill this week to meet with lawmakers, they need to emphasize the importance of putting the ESEA reauthorization back on track, he told conference attendees.

“They need to know how intensely you want to move the bill forward,” Felton said. “You have to give them a reason to help them get moving.”

In response to intense criticism over the use of sanctions, as well as other flaws, in the No Child Left Behind Act—the last reauthorization of ESEA—the U.S. Department of Education has responded with waivers to ease some of the excesses of the law. But that’s not enough, Felton insisted.

“We don’t want a quick fix. We don’t want reauthorization to go away [as a priority]. We need a bill that addresses what we need done so the law is more effective.”

At least one audience member expressed frustration with lawmakers, who offer their support yet have repeatedly failed to advance a reauthorization bill to a vote. Felton acknowledged the problem but said that, if school board members don’t make their voices heard, lawmakers certainly will put reauthorization on the backburner.

But when school leaders are face-to-face with lawmakers, he warned, they should not settle for a general statement of support—what’s needed is a specific commitment, whether it’s a promise to co-sponsor legislation or lobby fellow lawmakers to support action.

“If they say, ‘I’m with you,’ then define what ‘I’m with you’ means,” he said.

Meanwhile, Felton also encouraged school leaders to seek co-sponsors for NSBA’s new legislative proposal to protect local school district governance from unnecessary and counter‐productive federal intrusion from the federal education department.

The bill would require the Education Department to establish that new regulations, grant requirements, and other regulatory material is consistent with the intent of federal law and are “educationally, operationally, and financial supportable at the local level.”

The bill is a response to the Obama administration’s increasing practice to guide local and state education policy by tying access to federal funds to new rules and regulations designed to advanced administration policies—and not based on federal legislation that, at least, is more subject to public and legislative deliberation.

“We don’t want local school board authority to continue to be eroded because of what’s happening at the federal level.”

Del Stover|January 28th, 2013|Categories: Governance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, FRN Conference 2013|Tags: , , , |

Washington group analyzes K-12 initiatives and predicts future steps

Obama administration initiatives such as the Race to the Top (RTTT) competitive grant program and the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB)/Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) waivers have generated more innovation in a shorter time than any other K-12 education reform in recent memory, according to an influential Washington group.

The Center for American Progress (CAP) hosted a forum on July 27 “The State of State Education Reform: What’s Happening, What’s Next?” At the event, the panelists singled out:

  • A wide variety of school improvement strategies
  • Removal of the caps on charter school creation
  • Widespread adoption of college- and career-ready standards
  • A build up of human capacity in the education sector
  • A determined focus on education reform creating a coherent vision of goals to achieve, the means to achieve them and the obstacles that need to be overcome

The National School Boards Association has been following developments in all of these areas because of the critical role school boards will play in implementing these programs, as well as monitoring the role of the federal government. Representatives from NSBA’s legislative advocacy department attended the event.

At the event, panelists John King, New York State Commissioner, Michael Yudin, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Strategic Initiatives in the U.S. Department of Education, and Alex Johnston, adviser to the Bloomberg Philanthropies and Chair of the Board of Directors, Policy Innovators in Education, agreed that the RTTT funding was a huge incentive to jump start much-needed reforms and help accelerate reforms many states had already embraced; increase charter school development; and bring an evaluation system into labor-management relations.  The process of developing applications brought together governors, state superintendents/commissioners and state boards of education, and ultimately state legislatures.

King was critical of local school boards for not being more proactive on the innovation front and avoiding interventions with failing schools.  He said he is seeking legislation in the upcoming New York 2013 legislative session to empower the state to remove local boards that have not addressed chronically underperforming schools.

“We’ve been missing that tool,” said King, whose experience before joining the New York Department of Education was with charter school management.

Johnston noted that Connecticut has been identified as having the greatest achievement gap between children in poverty and those from families with more affluence. But the state’s failure to secure RTTT funds motivated both gubernatorial candidates to make education a top campaign issue and continues to be a driving force.

Brown and panelists noted the current widespread diminished and limited capacity of state departments of education in leading change.  Their embedded monitoring and compliance approach, dictated by NCLB and the enforcement of state aid policies, was shifted to an agenda marked by change, school improvement, and increased standards.  The Common Core State Standards have also motivated states to work together on evaluating curriculum, on developing new, upgraded assessments, and on developing a system that relies more on technology for delivering professional development to teachers and principals.  The emphasis on building regional teams has also been reinforced.

The event was in tandem with the CAP’s analysis of the second round of applications for the NCLB waiver program.

This report was compiled by Roberta Stanley, NSBA’s director of federal affairs.

Erin Walsh|July 30th, 2012|Categories: Governance, School Boards, Educational Legislation, School Reform, Student Achievement, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Legislative advocacy|Tags: , , , , |

NSBA urges action on ESEA, organizes “call-in day”

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is urging the U.S. Congress to complete its reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act before it adjourns later this year.

Through its “ESEA Now” campaign, NSBA is urging school board members and other educators to contact their Washington representatives on Wednesday, May 9 to push for an overhaul of the law, which is now five years past due. The House and Senate education committees have passed bills that, while not perfect, would be a large improvement over the existing law. NSBA is calling on both chambers to pass these bills and quickly reconcile their differences.

“Nobody believes that the No Child Left Behind law is working the way it was intended, and Congress needs to complete its work and relieve all schools from its flawed accountability measures,” said NSBA President C. Ed Massey, a member of the Boone County Board of Education in Kentucky. “We need to move toward a system that emphasizes 21st century skills and common core standards rather than testing and ineffective sanctions.”

Working with a coalition of nine other major organizations of state and local government officials, NSBA also is calling on Congressional leaders to move forward now on a floor vote for ESEA reauthorization.

A resolution passed by NSBA’s Delegate Assembly, which includes state association leaders representing the more than 90,000 school board members across the country, last month urges Congress to include the following provisions in a comprehensive reauthorization:

  • Ensure states and local school districts have greater flexibility to make educationally sound decisions, and be free of mandates that unnecessarily or counterproductively hinder school districts from achieving their goals (i.e., mandating the expansion of charter schools and standardized tests as a measure of accountability, and conditioning federal funding on the adoption of state-led common core standards);
  • Ensure the accountability systems accurately and fairly report student, school, and school district performance; Ensure high-quality, valid, and reliable assessments for all students, including English language learners and students with disabilities;
  • Support the use of multiple measures of academic achievement that will more accurately determine students’ knowledge and performance that reflect a well-rounded education necessary to be successful in the 21st century economy, as opposed to judging success on their performance on a single assessment;
  • Permit the use of growth models and other measures of student achievement that more accurately reflect student and school performance; Facilitate strategic interventions that are designed at the local or state level and are targeted to students and schools most in need, rather than impose ineffective and costly sanctions;
  • Provide support to states and school districts and ensure their flexibility to establish programs to enhance teacher/principal quality focusing on preparation, recruitment, retention, and evaluation;
  • Provide support to school districts to give all children, including migratory children, the opportunity to reach their full potential;
  • Support efforts by school districts, through a separate funding stream, to develop, expand, coordinate, and enhance the quality and availability of voluntary preschool programs for all 3- and 4-year old children; and
  • Fully fund the law, along with other federal assistance programs that are critical to successfully achieving the goals of the new law, and limit the expansion of competitive grants where such expansion would result in level funding of formula-based grants so critical to students in poverty.

 

Alexis Rice|May 8th, 2012|Categories: School Boards, High Schools, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, School Reform, Student Achievement, Policy Formation|Tags: , , |

The week in blogs: Obama’s education budget (abridged)

Want to get the high points of President Obama’s K12 budget — that is, without sifting through all the numbers and the fine print? Read the Quick and the Ed post by Rikesh Nana on the “three key takeaways” from the Administration’s proposal. It’s an excellent synopsis of what the president is proposing and what it all means.

So what are those takeaways? In order: consolidation of Department of Education programs (something that’s been tried in past budgets but never adopted): continued funding of Race to the Top and other competitive grant programs; and — in the absence of congressional action — an administration-sponsored overhaul of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

OK, sports fans, this next column is not about Jeremy Lin. (But if we find one on the New York Knicks sensation that has to do with K12 education, we promise to include it next week.) Instead, Eduwonk’s Andrew Rotherham looks at the firing — and quick rehiring by another team — of NHL hockey coach Bruce Boudreau and what that says about the importance of professional “fit.” Hint: It applies to teaching as well as big-time sports.

Been to Cleveland recently? Even if you haven’t, or have no plans to do so, you’ll want to check out another interesting Quick and the Ed blog on the city’s “portfolio” system of managing schools. Schools would operate with greater or lesser autonomy depending on their performance. “Charter schools as well as district-operated ones would participate,” says the blog by Richard Lee Colvin, “with the goal of giving families a real choice among several good options in every neighborhood.”

Lastly, check out Mark Bauerlein of the Chronicle of Higher Education on the attitudes and academic habits of college freshman. Here’s an interesting paradox (actually a bunch of paradoxes): more than 70 percent of students placed their academic ability in the “highest 10 percent” or “above average,” but only 45 percent felt that confident about their math ability, and just 46 percent believed they were that stellar in writing.

Lawrence Hardy|February 17th, 2012|Categories: Teachers, Charter Schools, Week in Blogs, Educational Legislation, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, School Reform, Student Achievement, Budgeting, 21st Century Skills|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

NSBA: NCLB waivers are not enough

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) was encouraged on Thursday by President Barack Obama’s announcement to waive problematic and burdensome regulatory requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) from ten states.

However, NSBA cautions that this is not enough and is calling for Congress to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary School Education Act (ESEA).

“The NCLB waiver program will give ten states additional flexibility but also imposes new conditions and program criteria on states and school districts requiring them to engage in activities that do not necessarily improve student achievement.” said Anne L. Bryant, NSBA’s Executive Director, who was at the White House for the announcement. “The waiver process should not be viewed as an acceptable substitute for ESEA reauthorization, as all U.S. school districts must be free of unnecessary or counterproductive federal mandates that hinder our goals of increasing student achievement. Congress cannot continue to delay, now is the time to reauthorize ESEA and fully replace the current accountability system that neither accurately nor fairly reflects the performance of students, schools, or school districts.”

The first ten states to receive the waivers are Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. The next submission deadline to request waivers is February 21, 2012. As of February 6, 2012, the U.S. Department of Education reports that 28 additional states, D.C., and Puerto Rico have submitted an intent to request waivers for the February deadline. For those states that do not choose to apply or whose application is rejected, their local school districts will continue to suffer under the existing NCLB regime.

Bryant additionally noted, “If Congress waits until next year to reauthorize ESEA and decides not to include these conditions or decides on a different set of requirements, school districts could have spent unnecessary time and financial resources to comply with the waivers.”

Where state applications are approved for waivers, local school boards will be offered far greater flexibility in the use of federal funds to address their own unique needs. Of great significance to local school boards experiencing declines in their own revenue streams is the elimination of requirements to set aside 20 percent of Title I funds for public school choice and supplemental tutorial services. While local school boards may continue to fund additional tutorial and open enrollment programs, these funds may be used to support school improvement strategies that can more effectively address local conditions.

Additionally, the waivers allow states to request relief from NCLB’s other badly flawed policies and regulations. This includes an accountability system requiring all students and groups of students to be 100 percent proficient by 2014 and a one-size-fits-all system of punitive actions against schools and school districts such as the firing of principals and teachers or closing of schools that rarely resulted in consistent improvement in student achievement.

Alexis Rice|February 10th, 2012|Categories: School Boards, Teachers, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Policy Formation|Tags: , , , |

Passing ESEA is critical, NSBA says

Under the banner of “ESEA Now: Our Schoolchildren, Our Economy, and Our Future,” NSBA leaders outlined the past year’s legislative successes and upcoming issues at the opening session of the Federal Relations Network (FRN) Conference on Sunday.

Pushing for a comprehensive reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) will be the most critical action school board members will take this week in Washington, D.C., NSBA Associate Executive Director Michael A. Resnick told the more than 700 FRN participants attending the three-day meeting. Closely tied to that action is adequate funding for core federal programs including Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Educators have been working tirelessly for five years to get a new version of the now decade-old No Child Left Behind Act passed, and the House and Senate are finally moving toward passage of ESEA legislation in the respective chambers, NSBA President Mary Broderick said.

“Congress’ timing is particularly fortunate for us to make a mark on the process,” Broderick said. “While both bills make significant improvements over existing law, neither is perfect, and this stage of the legislative process is the ideal time to make those changes.”

Having successfully overcome proposals to make large-scale cuts in the education budget this year, FRN participants must be aware of initiatives such as the Budget Control Act, which would instill a 7.8 percent across-the-board cut in federal programs. Further, proposals within the ESEA reauthorization would create formulas for future program funds that do not take into account the increasing numbers of students living in poverty and students with special needs.

Resnick reminded attendees that national polls during this election year show that the majority of voters are largely ambivalent about whether their members continue to serve, and some 90 House representatives coming up for reelection for the first time. Keeping this in mind, school board members should push the importance of passing an ESEA reauthorization as a major achievement.

“Why shouldn’t they want to deliver for America’s children? Why shouldn’t they want to deliver for America’s future?” he asked.

Resnick also announced plans for the National School Boards Action Center, a 501-c4 organization, which will help further push NSBA’s advocacy agenda and allow for more targeted lobbying and endorsements. One of the center’s first issues will be promoting NSBA priorities and education issues for the 2012 campaigns.

Joetta Sack-Min|February 5th, 2012|Categories: School Boards, Federal Programs, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Budgeting, Legislative advocacy, FRN Conference 2012|Tags: , , , , , |
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