Education commissioner expects testing system to be rejected
Commissioner Doug Christensen, who has stood firm for local decision-making, says, The Feds "have been less than open with us. This process has been anything but a partnership."
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- Nebraska Education Commissioner Doug Christensen says he expects the U.S. Department of Education to reject the state's assessment system for No Child Left Behind.
The federal government's review of Nebraska's system probably will be final on Wednesday, Christensen said.
"We expect to be turned down, and expect a decision of non-approval," he said.
Christensen had hoped to meet with Education Department officials to discuss the testing system. But Assistant Secretary Henry Johnson notified Christensen last week that a meeting wouldn't be possible.
The 2001 No Child Left Behind Act was designed to make sure that children receive an adequate education by monitoring their progress.
The Education Department approved Nebraska's testing system in 2004. Nebraska allows districts to have local control and have their own curricula and assessments.
But Margaret Spellings, who became education secretary in January 2005, could overturn the 2004 decision, Christensen said.
Christensen said he's prepared for rejection.
"We will write a letter challenging the federal government's process, decision and its implementation of the law and its failure to honor our agreement with former U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige," Christensen said.
States that don't receive federal approval stand to lose Title I money that is used by those states to administer No Child Left Behind.
Christensen said it was important to have a complete, full review with federal officials before any decision is made and funds withheld.
"We will not turn back now," Christensen said. "This is a side step, not a step backward. We will also continue to communicate and work openly with USDE despite the fact that they have been less than open with us. This process has been anything but a partnership."
Nebraska and a number of other states have been notified that approval for their assessment systems are pending. That means they had components in their standards and achievement testing that were missing or that did not meet the federal requirements.
Fred Meyer, president of the State Board of Education, said he backs Nebraska's current assessment system.
"By any of a variety of measurements, Nebraska schools are among the best in the nation," Meyer said. "The State Board of Education strongly believes that the U.S. Department of Education should not be telling Nebraska how to run its schools."
Sioux City Journal
INDEX OF NCLB OUTRAGES