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NCLB Outrages

Submitted to Ed.Gov as a question regarding No Child

Stephen Krashen Comment

Speaking in Philadelphia at a NCLB summit on April 27, Education Secretary Spellings claimed that No Child Left Behind “ … is helping us learn about what works in our schools. And clearly, high standards and accountability are working. Over the last 5 years, our 9-year-olds have made more progress in reading than in
the previous 28 combined.”

This claim is incorrect. The big improvement in the last five years came before NCLB came into effect, from 1999 to 2002, a seven point jump. NCLB was introduced in 2002-2003. Since 2002, there has been no movement in fourth grade NAEP scores, and no reduction of the gap between children of poverty and children
not in poverty.

NAEP reading scores, 1999-2005
1999 = 212
2000 = 213
2002 = 219
2003 = 218
2005 = 219


Remarks by Secretary Spellings at No Child Left Behind Summit

Contacts: Valerie Smith
(202) 401-1576

Philadelphia, Pa. — U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings today delivered remarks at the No Child Left Behind Summit: The Path to 2014 at the Philadelphia School District Education Center. At the first in a series of summits on No Child Left Behind, the Secretary discussed the role of teachers and administrators in ensuring every child receives a quality education. Following are her prepared remarks:

Thank you Paul Vallas for introducing me. You're a terrific leader and manager, and you've achieved great results. Since you came here, student achievement has risen by 11 points in reading and 17 points in math. Fifth grade math scores alone increased by 26 points. All this, and you've balanced your budget, too. Clearly, your background in economics has been a tremendous asset to your school districts... and to the students and parents they serve.

As Paul or any successful business leader will tell you, high standards and accountability are the foundation for success. That's Business 101. It's the same in education, and a few years ago with No Child Left Behind, we made that foundation permanent.

With this law, we set a historic goal for our country: every child learning on grade level by 2014. This is the first in a series of departmental summits—public discussions to help educators and administrators ensure our students reach that goal. I'm looking forward to future events on other topics... including how to serve more students more effectively... and how to close the achievement gap between children from different races, backgrounds, and ZIP codes.

All of us know that the hard work of educating our students happens in classrooms, not in the superintendent's office, the state legislature, the U.S. Capitol—or for that matter, the Education Secretary's office. So I'd like to take a moment to say thank you to all of the teachers who are here.

I would like to thank the American Federation of Teachers for joining us. I've appreciated AFT's input on many key policy issues, especially their great work on reading, and we have a great working relationship. Just last night, I was with Nat LaCour at the teacher of the year celebration. I also want to thank the NEA for being here, one of their own, Kim Oliver, was honored yesterday as the new Teacher of the Year for 2006

Yesterday I stood on the White House lawn and watched President Bush proclaim Kim National Teacher of the Year. She said she chose to be a teacher because like all of us, she was lucky enough to have a teacher who challenged her.

Everywhere I go, I am inspired by hard-working teachers who believe that every child deserves a quality education. And like Kim, when they look at a struggling student, they see nothing but potential. You can feel it when you walk into their classrooms—their confidence and great expectations are palpable.

I recently met a local teacher of the year in Spokane, Washington. She had earned that honor after 17 years of teaching elementary school—but the most recent ones were different. She told me she was a better teacher today than she was five years ago because of No Child Left Behind.

That's probably the best compliment this law could get. Because at its heart, it was intended to help teachers help students reach their potential. And all of us must do everything we can to support educators in this most important task.

We at the Department of Education are offering free workshops on effective strategies for teachers. Our training is certified in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Through our online courses at Ed.gov, teachers may even obtain Highly Qualified Teacher status without ever leaving their homes.

Before No Child Left Behind, if a parent asked how a school was doing, we couldn't really answer the question. We had very little data about how to track year-to-year progress... and often no benchmarks for success.

This law is helping us learn about what works in our schools. And clearly, high standards and accountability are working. Over the last 5 years, our 9-year-olds have made more progress in reading than in the previous 28 combined. Scores are at all-time highs for African-American and Hispanic students.

We're also learning about what we need to improve. And we've reached a point where we must make some tough decisions and confront some sacred cows

If we're going to have all students learning on grade level by 2014, we've got to start running faster and doing more. We're seeing it's possible. Delaware, Kansas, North Carolina, and Oklahoma are on track to reaching our goal in elementary school reading. But many others are not yet.

As leaders, as policymakers, and as parents, it's our job to help those schools reach their full potential. And it's our job to make sure every child has the knowledge and skills to succeed.

We have a saying in Texas, "if all you ever do is all you've ever done, then all you'll ever get is all you've ever got." And in my experience, if you just put more money for the same old things in the same old system, it usually means you'll get the same old results. Until every child can read and do math on grade level, the same old thing won't be enough. Not by a long shot. If we're serious about our 2014 goal—and I know we are—then we've got to change some things.

Business as usual doesn't always serve the needs of teachers or students. For example, today, you're most likely to find the most experienced and qualified teachers in our wealthiest communities. But in high-poverty middle and high schools, only half of math teachers majored or minored in the field they're teaching. And for science teachers, that number drops to only a third.

We don't serve teachers or students well by placing our least experienced teachers in our most challenging environments. Nor do we serve teachers well by asking them to teach subjects they don't know much about. It's not right, it's not fair, and it sets teachers—and students—up for failure.

A lot of you are superintendents and administrators who, like me, are responsible for addressing problems like these. And having worked in education at the state and local levels, I understand the challenges you face. When you're hearing from school boards, parents, your state officials, and the Secretary of Education... it can be hard to reconcile the different interests and different expectations. But students are counting on us to make sure the system serves their needs and priorities—and not just the grown ups.

So I'm calling on each and every one of you to apply strategies like the ones you'll hear about today. This is not a show-and-tell. I want this event to kick off some serious debates about how to solve the issues we're facing.

For example, how can we reform our personnel system to make sure our most challenging schools are served by our most effective teachers? Shouldn't we track the results they're getting with students and learn from that data? Since we know that teachers with strong content knowledge get better results, shouldn't we reach out to professionals from other fields to bring them into our classrooms, especially when our shortages in these critical areas are so great?

The President and the Congress recently created a $100 million Teacher Incentive Fund to encourage more experienced teachers to go to high-poverty schools, and reward them for results—an approach that has been shown to positively impact student performance.

The fund also supports state and local administrators who develop proven models that others could replicate—and I encourage all of you who are here to take advantage of that opportunity. We'll start accepting applications for the new Teacher Incentive Fund on Monday, just in time to kick off the Department's Celebrating Teachers Week.

In addition, my department will continue to support teachers with significant resources, including more than 3 billion dollars this year. Today you'll hear from some people who are using those resources in innovative and effective ways.

We're also faced with a shortage of qualified teachers in math, science, and critical foreign languages—and to overcome it, we must make some changes. That's why the President has also called for $122 million to help prepare 70,000 teachers to lead AP and International Baccalaureate classes... and $25 million to help recruit 30,000 math and science professionals to be adjunct teachers in these essential subject areas.

This is urgent work... and to have all kids on grade level by 2014, we only have time to do what works. As all of you know, our children aren't growing up in the same world we did. You can't pick up a newspaper or magazine these days without reading about global competitiveness. But after traveling around the country and meeting so many great educators, and after meeting the awesome teachers of the year yesterday at the White House—including Pennsylvania's own Barbara Benglian—I know we have nothing to fear.

Last week I visited a middle school in Maryland with President Bush and saw sixth graders learning about astronomy, robotic engineering, and aerospace technology—and loving it. We went into a class called Introduction to Robotic Systems, and the teacher walked up to the President and said, "Welcome to the future!" And he was right.

The class was full of students asking "what if" questions. They had high expectations and a lot of confidence, and they knew they could make a difference.

There are certain things you can't teach in a classroom that our students already have—qualities like creativity, diversity, and entrepreneurship. Our job is to give them the knowledge and skills to compete. Fortunately, we have plenty of great teachers who are up to the task.

That's why, like the President, I don't fear foreign competition. Students and teachers like this remind us that America has always been the most innovative society in the world. And together, we will make sure we always are. We know our goal of getting all students to grade level by 2014 is attainable, and as the title of this summit says, teachers will make it happen.

Thank you. I hope you enjoy the summit.

— Margaret Spellings and Stephen Krashen
Press Release


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