Articles tagged with NCLB

The week in blogs

Depending on your point of view — and your experiences with high-stakes testing — No Child Left Behind was either a critical first step toward school accountability, a good idea with some major flaws, or a colossal flop. (And there’s probably a myriad views in between.) Will the Common Core State Standards Initiative be any better? As you might expect, the views expressed by a number of experts on the National Journal’s education blog are all well-reasoned — and all over the map. Nobody said this was going to be easy.

Alberta has one of the best school systems in the world, writes the provocatively-named blog Dangerously Irrelevant, and it doesn’t look too kindly on what’s happening to its south. Thanks to This Week in Education for pointing out this eye-opening critique of why Canada seems to be getting things right in school reform – and much of the U.S. is getting it wrong.

Another must-read is the review of a new Department of Education report on school inequity from Raegen Miller of the Center for American Progress.  Then, on the same site, see Robert Pianta’s proposals for improving teacher development.

Finally, a non-education story, strictly speaking, but one that says a lot about what it takes to be an effective leader – including a leader in a school district. Yes, it’s a sports column (by the Washington Post’s Sally Jenkins) and yes it deals with recent coaching changes on two of Washington’s pro teams, which, most of you I would imagine do not care a whole lot about. ( I live here, and even I don’t care that much.) But — trust me here — Jenkins’ message about the kind of leaders people follow goes beyond mere games.

 

Lawrence Hardy|December 2nd, 2011|Categories: Board governance, Educational Legislation, Educational Research, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Governance, Leadership, National Standards, Professional Development, School Reform, Student Achievement, Teachers, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , |

The week in blogs

Pundits made a big deal about Rick Perry forgetting the name of one of the three federal departments he plans to eliminate if elected president– for the record, it was the Department of Energy — but blogger Frederick M. Hess of the American Enterprise Institute is more concerned about just what the Texas governor means when he says the Department of Education would also be “gone.”

“It isn’t clear that abolishing the Department would itself end any federal education programs (since they can migrate elsewhere),” Hess wrote. “So, specifically, which programs and activities will you eliminate?”

Then – wouldn’t you know it? – it gets complicated.

Would Perry try to eliminate federal funding for special education? Hess asked. How about Pell grants or Title 1?

“Many will think there are obvious right and wrong answers to these questions,” Hess writes after posing a few other queries “But I do want to know what the GOP candidate’s bold promises really mean.”

Remember nearly 10 years ago when Connecticut went to court over No Child Left Behind, claiming it would cost millions in unfunded mandates? Well, just look at what it could cost California in required “reforms” in order to be granted an NCLB waiver by the Obama Administration, writes This Week in Education’s John Thompson, and Connecticut’s decade-old legal gambit doesn’t seem that out of line.

Lastly, we turn to two timely blogs from NSBA’s Center for Public Education.  In one Mandy Newport, a former teacher, Center intern, and graduate student at George Washington University, takes the Heritage Foundation to task for it’s ill-conceived idea that paying teachers less will result in education improvements.

Then there is Research Analyst Jim Hull’s blog on Tennessee’s new teacher evaluation system, the title of which I absolutely love:

“Using research to inform policy without understanding the research.”

Sort of like, “Vowing to eliminate the Department of Education without understanding what the Department of Education does?”

Lawrence Hardy|November 19th, 2011|Categories: Center for Public Education, Educational Research, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Federal Programs, Week in Blogs|Tags: , , , , , , , |

The week in blogs

My favorite response to the Heritage Foundation’s controversial study that teachers just aren’t as, well, smart as your typical college grad and, therefore, are way overpaid is this Modest Proposal from a reader of Jonathan Chait’s New York Magazine blog:

“How about we just don’t pay teachers anything at all and hope for the best possible outcome. That’s my kind of public policy.”

Ours too! And we have a think tank we want you to join.

Seriously, it’s fairly well known that education majors don’t score as highly on standardized tests, on average, as graduates in other fields. So, while some may consider such a study offensive and counterproductive, one could argue that there’s a certain logic in trying to compare wages by cognitive ability.

On the other hand, there’s a lot more that goes into teaching than test scores, many teachers enter the field from other majors; and cutting teacher salaries, as the report’s authors suggest, seems to be the last thing you’d want to do improve the profession. Finally, after an unprecedented year of public employee — and, especially, teacher — bashing, it’s disturbing to see teachers as targets once again.

For other views on the study, see Time magazine; former Washington D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee (via Politico), and a response by report co-author Andrew Biggs.

A lot of grand ideas come out of Washington, emanating from think tanks such as Heritage and, of course, from government itself. Right now, Congress is taking a critical look at one of the biggest “grand ideas” — No Child Left Behind — struggling to preserve its goal of higher achievement for all while revising or abolishing its more onerous mandates.

That’s what’s happening here; for a view of what it was like in the trenches, read Mandy Newport, a former teacher, NSBA Center for Public Education intern, and graduate student in education policy at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., as she describes the real-world impact of NCLB.

“No chalkboard space was left in classrooms because we were required to use that space to hang standards and essential questions. Science and social studies were taken away for the younger grades and replaced with test taking skills for an hour a day … Lesson plans had to be a certain font and size and were on a template given to teachers by the district.”

But if we just paid teachers less…..

Finally, read Newport’s evenhanded — and largely positive — review of Denver’s ProComp Pay for Performance plan.

Lawrence Hardy|November 4th, 2011|Categories: Center for Public Education, Curriculum, Educational Research, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Teachers, Week in Blogs|Tags: , , , , , |

WH sidesteps Congress, offering relief from NCLB

The Obama administration has unveiled its plans to offer states and local school districts some regulatory relief from the more onerous mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act—a policy move that NSBA calls encouraging.

First proposed this summer, the initiative will allow states to request waivers to specific NCLB mandates in exchange for “serious” reform efforts designed to close achievement gaps and boost accountability.

For local school boards, such waivers could offer greater flexibility in the use of federal funds—or the elimination of the highly unpopular requirement that local districts set aside 20 percent of Title I funds for school choice and supplemental tutorial services.

States also can seek relief from NCLB’s accountability system, with its unrealistic expectation that all students will be 100-percent proficient by 2014, and from such punitive sanctions as forcing a low-per-forming school to fire its principals and teachers or close down.

The waivers will come at a price. The White House says states and local school districts will need to embrace new accountability standards, create tougher and more meaningful teacher evaluation systems, and make greater efforts to ensure all graduating students are college and career-ready.

“The purpose is not to give states and districts a reprieve from accountability, but rather to unleash energy to improve our schools at the local level,” Obama said in a statement released Friday.

NSBA has long campaigned for federal policymakers to fix the flaws of NCLB, and NSBA officials welcomed the Obama administration’s latest initiative.

“The proposed NCLB regulatory relief plan is a positive step as it could provide much needed assistance to local school district efforts to improve student achievement,” says Anne L. Bryant, NSBA’s executive director.

Still unclear, however, is whether individual local school boards will see the regulatory relief they want.

“The effectiveness of the plan will depend upon the details of the application requirements, the specific locally needed relief states ask for, and whether the merit of a state’s application is judged adequate by the U.S. Department of Education to receive the relief that it asks for,” Bryant notes.

The administration’s waiver program might yet need to take another step forward, suggests Michael A. Resnick, NSBA’s associate executive director for federal advocacy and public policy.

“NSBA believes that federal requirements that are educationally, financially, or operationally counter-productive at the school house level should be eliminated as a matter of policy not as a condition for states qualifying to meet new conditions,” Resnick says. “We encourage the U.S. Department of Education to provide local relief along those lines should its state-based approach fall short of the local relief needed.”

Administration officials said they’ve acted because of delays in Congress over NCLB’s reauthorization. Under the law, schools are facing increasingly serious sanctions as they approach the 2014 deadline for bringing 100 percent of the nation’s students to proficiency levels in reading and math.

One federal estimate is that 82 percent of the nation’s schools will miss that target.

“The states are desperately asking for us to respond,” U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said last month.

Most states have indicated they will apply for waivers. The White House says the first waivers could be granted by early 2012.

 

Del Stover|September 23rd, 2011|Categories: Board governance, School Board News, School Boards|Tags: , , , , , |

Is NCLB hurting top students?

The following post was originally posted on the Center for Publc Education’s blog The Edifier.

It’s déjà vu all over again. Back in 2008 the Fordham Institute claimed in this report that our nation’s best students were being hurt by current education reform efforts, particularly No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Fast forward to earlier this week where Fordham released another report to once again try to show that our education reforms are being targeted at our low performing students at the expense of our top students. The similarities don’t end with both studies examining the performance of high achieving students, in both reports Fordham’s conclusions don’t fit what their own data says.

In the 2008 study Fordham argued our top students were being left behind because their gains were not as large as the gains low performing students made post-NCLB. I argued then that their own data didn’t fit their claim. Once again, Fordham claims that our top students are being left behind don’t fit their own data. As a matter of fact, according to Fordham’s report the gap in math scores between low- (those scoring below 10th percentile) and high-performing (those score above the 90th percentile) did not significantly change as students moved from 3rd to 8th grade or from 6th to 10th grade. The good news is that all students made consistent gains, unfortunately for low-performing students their performance still lagged way behind. The story is a bit different in reading where gaps did close between the lowest and highest performing students. However, Fordham sees this gap closing as a negative even though high performing students continued to make significant gains between the 3rd and 8th grades. It was just that low-performing students made even greater gains during that period.

Just as I argued in 2008, this is how gaps should be narrowed, where everyone improves but the lowest performers improve at a faster rate. However, Fordham didn’t agree with me then and I’ll safely assume they won’t agree with me now. We will just have to agree to disagree because I don’t believe the data shows our best students are being short changed simply because our lowest performers are making more progress than our highest performing students. Now that doesn’t mean our schools or our education policies should focus solely on our lowest performing students. Educators and policymakers need to ensure that ALL students have an opportunity to reach their highest academic potential before they go onto college or the workplace. Yet, neither Fordham study provides compelling data that our schools are short changing our highest performing students.

Yes, educators and policymakers need to focus on our highest achieving students as international test scores show we have a much smaller proportion advanced students than the leading countries such as South Korea and Finland but the same international tests show we also have a much larger proportion of very low-performers than most other industrialized nations. And students with such low achievement have little chance to go onto any sort of postsecondary education or find a good job that pays a living wage and offers benefits. So we need to at least sustain the gains our highest achievers are making since many will be our country’s future innovators, policymakers and business leaders. At the same time we need to accelerate the gains our lowest achieving students are making so they at least have the minimal skills necessary to either go onto earn some sort of postsecondary degree/certificate or find a good job. Doing so is not a zero-sum game. If we provide our teachers with the training, resources, and support they need, they can improve the performance of all students.

Jim Hull|September 23rd, 2011|Categories: Center for Public Education, Educational Research, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Reports, School Reform, Student Achievement, Teachers|Tags: , , , , |

NSBA and AASA respond to announcement on NCLB waivers

NSBA and the American Association of School Administrators sent this letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan again calling for targeted regulatory relief for the nation’s schools. The letter is in response to communications from the U.S. Department of Education this week proposing relief to school districts via conditional waivers that require participating districts to adopt measures that support the administration’s education policy priorities.

NSBA recently surveyed school district leaders to determine the specific waivers under the No Child Left Behind Act that would they would find most useful. Read about the top areas identified for relief (so far) in School Board News Today.

Joetta Sack-Min|August 11th, 2011|Categories: Elementary and Secondary Education Act|Tags: , , , |

NSBA in the News: US moves to head off states’ revolt over NCLB

For months, NSBA and other education groups have asked Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and the White House to grant relief for school districts under the No Child Left Behind Act. The Christian Science Monitor notes NSBA’s stance in this story: “With some states in open revolt against education reforms in the No Child Left Behind law, the Obama administration prepares to issue waivers from certain requirements. But states must agree to a different set of reforms to qualify,” the newspaper writes.

Officials in three states–Idaho, Montana, and South Dakota, say they will refuse to raise the “adequate yearly progress” bar this year to avoid unfairly labeling more schools  as failing. A recent survey by NSBA identified key areas where relief is most needed.

Read updates and more about NSBA’s positions on NCLB and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization in this issue brief.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|August 9th, 2011|Categories: Elementary and Secondary Education Act|Tags: , , |

Late graduates to be counted

Note: This entry was orignially posted on National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Center for Public Education’s blog The Edifier.

It took awhile but states will finally be able to count those students who take longer than four years to earn a high school diploma (late graduates) as graduates through a common graduation rate formula that all states must use starting this summer. NSBA has been fighting for this change ever since the Center released its Better Late Than Never: Examining late high school graduates report over two and half years ago which showed that late graduate’s were more successful after high school in terms of earning a college degree, finding a good job, civic engagement and living healthier than those students who earned a GED or never earned a high school credential. As a matter for fact, late graduates’ postsecondary outcomes outcomes did not differ much from those students who graduated on-time. So there was little reason why late graduates shouldn’t have been counted as graduates.

The adoption of the common rate enables states to report an extended-year rate which would include late graduates that are currently not counted in most state gradation rates. In a press release announcing the common rate the U.S. Department of Education declared:

States may also opt to use an extended-year adjusted cohort, allowing states, districts and schools to account for students who complete high school in more than four years.

Moreover, in the release Secretary Arne Duncan stated that a common rate “…will also encourage states to account for students who need more than four years to earn a diploma.”

This is a major step forward in giving districts credit where credit is due by counting all students who earn a standard high school diploma as graduates not just those who earn a diploma in four years. However, how districts get credit, if any, for their late graduates under Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) / No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and most state accountability systems is still unclear. Hopefully Congress will reauthorize ESEA soon and put into law that indeed late graduates are graduates even for accountability sake.

Jim Hull|July 29th, 2011|Categories: Center for Public Education, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, High Schools, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Reports, Student Achievement|Tags: , , , , , , |

School districts identify NCLB regulatory relief needs

As part of continuing efforts to urge Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to grant regulatory relief from the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) to school districts, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) recently surveyed school district leaders to determine the specific waivers that would be most useful.

NSBA was heartened by Duncan’s recent announcement that he intends to offer waivers from certain Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) regulations in exchange for reforms.

The survey identified 17 areas where immediate relief is most needed. These include:

  • Eliminate the 20 percent set-aside for supplemental services or school choice; these have not produced significant results in student achievement and districts need the flexibility to use the money in more effective ways.
  • Relieve entire school districts from being identified as needing improvement when the focus should be on specific schools or groups.
  • Enable states to use multiple measures for measuring adequate yearly progress (AYP) instead of one test.
  • Allow a three-year transition, instead of one-year transition, for English language learners to be counted toward AYP benchmarks.

More than 100 school districts, representing a cross-section of urban, suburban, and rural schools and demographics across the country, responded to the survey.

And more than 1,000 signatures have been collected for a petition sponsored by NSBA and the American Association of School Administrators calling for relief from NCLB’s flawed, costly, and ineffective regulations before the start of the new academic year, as it is clear Congress will not be able to enact a new law by that time.

NSBA continues to support efforts by the Department of Education and Congress to build a better and more appropriate accountability system under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. However, given the short time before the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year, NSBA leaders have urged Duncan to immediately remove sanctions and requirements proven to be flawed, costly and ineffective.

“This is a real concern, particularly in light of financial challenges facing local school districts, the administrative actions related to the opening of the new school year, and the expected changes in direction from the new ESEA law,” said NSBA’s Executive Director Anne L. Bryant.  “ESEA reauthorization continues to remain a top priority. Therefore, we consider this relief to be a short-term patch to provide a bridge over the expanding dysfunctional impact that No Child Left Behind is having on schools and districts.”

NSBA also is concerned that a proposal by the Education Department to grant relief to states would not recognize the different needs of local school districts, which were evident in the survey. Further, the Education Department should not tie relief in exchange for specific other reforms, considering costs, varying local needs and capacities, timing for the school year, and that Congress is already working on a reauthorization of ESEA.

“The best approach for offering relief would be to address the on-the-ground needs of local school districts and address those needs in a practical manner,” said Michael A. Resnick, NSBA’s Associate Executive Director for Advocacy and Public Policy.

NSBA has recommended that the short-term approach should focus on providing local relief and not initiating broad-based reforms, in part given the uncertainty of the direction that the ESEA reauthorization will take in Congress.

However, NSBA leaders emphasized that they support the intentions of NCLB to hold school leaders accountable for their students’ performance.

“In approaching regulatory relief, we in no way intend to undermine accountability systems that appropriately identify low-performing or high-achieving students, schools, or districts,” said Bryant. “We are simply calling for regulatory relief in areas where the current program is flawed or in need of immediate change.”

 

 

 

Joetta Sack-Min|July 22nd, 2011|Categories: Educational Legislation, Elementary and Secondary Education Act|Tags: |

In Op-ed, NSBA’s Bryant challenges Duncan’s bandaid fix to NCLB

NSBABryantCall me naïve, but I don’t think the primary purpose of No 3283394_com_arneduncanChild Left Behind was to shame public schools or pave the way for privatization. I believe — and this is just my opinion — that the law’s principal creators sincerely wanted to improve the education of disadvantaged children, and NCLB, flawed as it is, was the vehicle they came up with.

That said, it’s hard to imagine a more breathtaking illogicality than the law’s central premise: That all children, despite their considerable differences, could be taught to a single high standard and that all students would be “proficient” by 2014.

This quote from Arne Duncan’s recent Politico piece on the law is telling:

Despite our shared sentiment for reform and the Obama administration’s long-standing proposal to reshape NCLB, the law remains in place, four years after it was due for reauthorization. Our children get only one shot at an education. They cannot wait any longer for reform.

Read that carefully and you’ll notice the education secretary isn’t talking about reforming schools, but reforming reform. Our children get only one shot at an education, and they cannot wait any longer to reform the reform.

Duncan’s heart is in the right place. He knows the legislation is seriously flawed and has vowed to do, through regulatory reform, what Congress won’t address with legislation. But the Secretary isn’t going far enough — offering merely to be more “flexible” under the same assessment system. That begs the question: If the legislation is so horrendously flawed, shouldn’t there be a moratorium on schools labeled “failing” under that broken system?

That’s exactly what NSBA Executive Director Anne L. Bryant argued last week in a commentary in the Huffington Post:

We need the regulatory relief this summer before school starts, instead of a new bureaucratic process that the Department of Education is purposing that could take many months to create. And as we need this as a matter of policy — not state or school district case-by-case waivers. We specifically support suspension of additional sanctions under current AYP requirements, effective for the 2011-12 school year, so that schools currently facing sanctions would remain frozen; no new schools would be labeled as ‘In Need of Improvement’ or subject to new or additional sanctions.

Lawrence Hardy, Senior Editor

Naomi Dillon|June 21st, 2011|Categories: American School Board Journal, Educational Technology, Governance|Tags: , , , |
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