Articles tagged with NCLB

Testing is useful tool, even if Obama labels it boring

1335-1243972165NX9TPresident Obama says testing makes education boring.

I’m not sure he’s right on that. When I was at school, I found nothing boring about a test.

In fact, I remember with great clarity sitting at my classroom desk, reading the questions on a test paper, and feeling the panic choke my throat.

Even when I knew the material, I was sweating heavily.

That’s because my parents expected good grades. They didn’t beat me if I got bad grades. I just knew that bad grades were not acceptable.

I knew there would be consequences—although, come to think of it, those consequences were never actually spelled out.

Now, I know the President, speaking recently at town hall meeting in Washington, D.C., was really talking about the dangers of today’s overreliance on standardized testing.
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Naomi Dillon|March 31st, 2011|Categories: American School Board Journal, Assessment, Policy Formation, Student Achievement|Tags: , , |

NCLB needs fixing, will common core standards be the answer?

At about the midpoint of a recent Washington, D.C., seminar on the fast-moving push for common state standards, Michael J. Feuer, a dean at George Washington University offered this humorous, if slightly discomforting, comparison with No Child Left Behind:

“For awhile, we were hoping that all kids would be proficient,” said Feuer, dean of the university’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development. “Now we’re just hoping the tests will be proficient.”

We know what happened with NCLB, and it certainly wasn’t universal agreement over the law’s ability to quantify and then raise student achievement.

“This law is fundamentally broken, and we need to fix it, and fix it this year,” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told the House Committee on Education and the Workforce last week. “The law has created dozens of ways for schools to fail and very few ways to help them succeed.”


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Naomi Dillon|March 15th, 2011|Categories: American School Board Journal, Assessment, Governance, Policy Formation, Student Achievement|Tags: , , |

Year one, Obama; Year seven, NCLB— where, when will the two meet?

1209_ASBJ_ndLast Tuesday I wrote about ASBJ‘s December forum, which features seven education experts commenting on the Obama Administration’s ambitious agenda for the public schools.

It’s titled “Year One,” for obvious reasons, and perhaps by the time we get to “Year Four,” or possibly, “Year Eight,” we’ll have a better idea of whether those policies were successful.

I also want to point you to a sidebar (at the end of the main forum) that examines, among other things, No Child Left Behind. Somehow “Year Seven” doesn’t sound as dramatic as “Year One,” but the fact is that the Bush administration’s seven-year-old initiative, while still a work in progress, is having a big impact on policy at the state and district level.

What do our pundits think of the law? Well, we quote several, including a pragmatic Eric Hanushek, of the Hoover Institution, who offers four ways to improve it; and a downright pessimistic Diane Ravitch, of New York University. Here’s what she has to say:

“When President [Obama] ran for office, he promised ‘change,’ and I assumed that he would change the punitive nature of NCLB. Since he assumed office, little has been said about the future of NCLB. At some point, the Obama administration will have to draft its plan for reauthorization. I hope that they will do so with the intent of supporting and helping struggling schools instead of punishing and closing them. However, given the administration’s rhetoric about closing 5,000 low-performing schools, I am not encouraged about their willingness to abandon the tough-guy stance.
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Naomi Dillon|December 1st, 2009|Categories: American School Board Journal, Policy Formation|Tags: , , |

Symbolic schoolhouse removed as icon of NCLB

Call me cynical, but it was one of those things that would make just about anyone with any knowledge about education policy roll their eyes.

It was 2002, in the midst of the hoopla around the signing of the No Child Left Behind Act. Then-Secretary Rod Paige turned a temporary protective shelter at the entrance of the U.S. Department of Education into a “little red schoolhouse” to symbolize a new day of accountability at the agency.

The structure was “a reminder that we do not serve a faceless bureaucracy or an unchangeable system. We serve an ideal. We serve the ideal of the little red schoolhouse,” he said at an event to promote NCLB.

From an architectural standpoint, putting a bright red, pre-fab garden shed with a cartoonish sign against a gray concrete government building just looked ridiculous.

Given that Paige wasn’t exactly the most personable secretary—he tended to rule with an iron fist and initially had little respect for the civil servants—it wasn’t much of a motivator for employees, either. And then there were the problems with the law itself.
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Naomi Dillon|June 24th, 2009|Categories: American School Board Journal, Governance|Tags: , |

NCLB’s uneven accountability

BoardBuzz checked out The Accountability Illusion–the latest report brought you to by the Fordham Institute and the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA).  The report examines 36 schools in 28 states to determine how NCLB accountability systems vary across states. To do so the report determined how many of the 36 schools would have made NCLB’s Adequately Yearly Progress (AYP) in each of the 28 states.

One example they highlight is that just one elementary school would have made AYP if they were located in Massachusetts, while all but one of the same schools would have made it if they were located in Wisconsin. For each of the schools, the same students took the same tests.  The only differences were the rules each state sets for their schools to make AYP. Such rules that differ from state to state are:

  • the minimum number of students they set for a student subgroup the school is accountable for,
  • the cut-scores on the state assessment students must meet considered proficient,
  • the percent of students expected to meet proficiency each year, and
  • whether they allow confidence intervals or not.

There is a whole lot more in the report. For more information check out the Center for Public Education‘s summary here.

Jim Hull|February 23rd, 2009|Categories: Elementary and Secondary Education Act, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Student Achievement|Tags: |

Preparing for a new discussion on standards

Now that we know who the next Secratary of Education will likely be, BoardBuzz‘s attention now shifts to how education policy may change at the federal level. Of course, the first thing that comes to mind are those four little letters that has defined federal education policy the last seven years, NCLB—but that may not be the only hot-button education issue to be debated in the next four years. Another, and maybe even more passionate, debate may be over who should develop the academic standards students are expected to meet.

The question over who should develop academic standards brings as much of a passionate discussion on the role of federal education policy as NCLB. That’s why our very own Center for Public Education created Standards: A new national discussion. There you will find what arguments are being made from all different perceptives on who is best equipped to develop standards. BoardBuzz strongly recommends you check it out so if the debate does heat up, you’ll have more ammunition to argue for who is best equipped to determine what our students should know and be able to do.

Jim Hull|December 19th, 2008|Categories: Educational Legislation, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, School Boards|Tags: , |

Push and shove

BoardBuzz recently visited NSBA‘s re-designed Legislative Action Center. The site outlines the steps that school board members can take to nudge Congress along through the NCLB reauthorization process. A few “nudges” could become a big shove in the right direction. Here’s how you can help:

Pass a resolution in support of H.R. 648 – more than 700 school districts have passed a resolution, and with your help, we can reach 1000! Passing a resolution: 1) urges your member of Congress to become a co-sponsor of H.R. 648; and 2) shows Congress that you support the provisions in H.R. 648 for improving NCLB. View the sample resolution, list of resolutions, and more information about H.R. 648 here.

Send a letter from your board to Chairman George Miller (CA-7) and Ranking Member Howard “Buck” McKeon (CA-25) of the House Education and Labor Committee urging the committee to complete the House reauthorization process now. NSBA created a sample letter that’s easy for you to use. When you’re done, be sure to fax the letter to Chairman Miller at (202) 225-5609 and Ranking Member McKeon at (202) 226-0683.

Send an e-mail to your member of Congress using NSBA’s Legislative Action Center and express your concerns about how NCLB has impacted your district and why it needs to be changed.

For more information about H.R. 648, NSBA’s bill to improve NCLB, click here.

Erin Walsh|February 25th, 2008|Categories: Educational Legislation, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|Tags: |

Do high schools need to be held accountable for their graduation rates?

Although accountability for math and reading achievement garner most of the attention when it comes to No Child Left Behind (NCLB), graduation rates are also included in determining whether high schools make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). This morning the folks over at The Education Trust shed a brighter light on this issue with the release of their latest report called Graduation Matters: Improving accountability for high school graduation. The report focuses on what they feel are two major shortcomings of NCLB’s current graduation rate accountability provisions. The Education Trust claims:

1. State goals for raising graduation rates are far too low to spur needed improvement.
2. Gaps between student groups are allowed to persist by an accountability system that looks only at average graduation rates.

The report calls for stronger accountability when it comes to high schools graduating their students. So to strengthen graduation-rate accountability they recommend states:

1. Calculate an accurate graduation rate based on the percent of first-time ninth graders who earn a standard diploma four years later. (aka the NGA Compact caclulation)
2. Use this information when holding schools accountable for making progress.
3. Set ambitious goals and aggressive improvement targets for meeting those goals.
4. Hold schools accountable for improving the graduation rates of all groups of students.

BoardBuzz applauds The Education Trust for highlighting the importance of graduating more of our students. But it will take more than just a new calculation to do so, although it is an important first step. BoardBuzz learned from our own Center for Public Education’s Keeping Kids in School: Lessons from research about preventing dropouts that the keys to keeping kids in school through graduation are to:

1. Identify students at-risk of dropping out before they reach high school.
2. Provide ongoing interventions.
3. Provide prevention programs once students enter high school.
4. Provide recovery programs for those students who slip through the cracks.

Although an accurate graduation rate is important in identifying which students are graduating and which students aren’t, no formula or accountability system will get more students to complete high school and walk across that stage to receive their diploma unless schools are given the tools they need to help those students at-risk of dropping out.

For more information about dropout prevention and graduation rates visit our friends at the Center for Public Education.

Erin Walsh|August 1st, 2007|Categories: Elementary and Secondary Education Act, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|Tags: , , |
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