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NCLB Outrages

Bush's NCLB Plan: Two Views


President George Bush’s State of the Union proposals to escalate the failing test-and-punish strategy of the “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) law, as outlined by a White House policy memo , rest on misinformation and ideologically skewed assumptions, not evidence. Pres. Bush wants to continue pursuing dead-end policies that have not improved educational quality, particularly for our nation's most vulnerable children

The facts demonstrate that NCLB is not a success. Key independent indicators, including dropout rates, college admissions test scores, and National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results are unchanged or only slightly improved. Narrowing of the racial achievement gap has slowed since NCLB was implemented.

Meanwhile, the law has turned many schools into test-coaching programs, denying students the well-rounded, rich education all the nation's children deserve. The Bush administration pretends that minor changes in test scores in a few subjects is an adequate substitute for real education.

Now, the Pres. Bush proposes that all states report their NAEP results along with scores on their local tests. But the NAEP definition of "proficiency" was deemed flawed and too high by the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Education. Making states look bad by comparing them to an unreasonable standard will not improve education.

Outside the Bush Administration, a broad consensus on how to overhaul NCLB is emerging, as evidence by the Joint Organizational Statement on NCLB, signed by more than 100 education, civil rights, religious, disability and civic groups, including FairTest. It says, "Overall, the law’s emphasis needs to shift from applying sanctions for failing to raise test scores to holding states and localities accountable for making the systemic changes that improve student achievement."

The recommended changes to NCLB include:
- using multiple measures of student learning instead of single test scores;
- expecting rates of improvement actually attained by significant numbers of real schools, replacing the "adequate yearly progress" scheme;
- providing substantial support for building the capacity of schools to serve all students well, then holding them accountable for making improvements; and
- increasing funding to support improvement efforts and to enable all students eligible for Title I services to receive them.

The Forum on Educational Accountability, a group working to implement the Joint Statement, will release more detailed proposals on capacity-building, assessment and accountability in the coming months.

The Joint Statement is available at http://www.fairtest.org and at http://www.edaccountability.org

This dialogue was on the Assessment Reform Network (ARN) discussion list.

Horn, James"
Subject: Beyond Remodeling NCLB

What FairTest has not confronted or challenged directly is the
privatization strategy that emanates from the conservatives' rationale for
the old and new versions of NCLB. FairTest, for whatever reason,
continues to pretend that the educational genocide from NCLB is somehow
an unintended consequence of incompetence or stupidity. Although there
is plenty of that to go around in this Administration, neither
incompetence nor stupidity is the reason that Bush Co. has a laser focus
on impossible AYP targets for public schools. Look at the privatization
initiatives in tonight's speech that depend upon the manufactured
failure of schools based on impossible test targets (See Below).

Date: Tue, 23 Jan 2007 18:12:30 -0500
From: "Monty Neill"
Subject: Re: Beyond Remodeling NCLB

FairTest's focus is testing, not privatization, though we do oppose privatization.
I noted in my earlier post to the list that amongst the Bush NCLB reauthorization shemes are proposals for more
privatization. The one-page press release to which you responded focused solely on FairTest's major issue - testing.

I also disagree that privatization is the driving force behind the law, though
there are certainly significant forces that see NCLB as a route to
privatization, and that is a real danger. There are multiple reasons for the
law and we should understand them and their complex interactions. That's a
long discussion. But high-stakes testing exists independently of
privatization schemes.

Here is the White House statement: our tax dollars at work destroying public education.

2007 State of the Union Policy Initiatives
In Focus: Education

Tonight, President Bush Will Discuss His Priorities For The Reauthorization Of The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). In 2001, President Bush worked with Republicans and Democrats to pass NCLB with overwhelming support, and he was proud to sign it into law in 2002. President Bush is committed to reauthorizing NCLB this year and building on the good progress that has been made. Strengthening and reauthorizing NCLB is critical – if we were to lower standards and roll back accountability now, we would be leaving children to the former status quo that failed them for decades.

* NCLB Is Raising Student Achievement For Millions Of Children In Schools Nationwide. Because of NCLB, every State and the District of Columbia now hold schools accountable for results by testing every child and evaluating students by student group. Minority students are closing the achievement gap, and student achievement is rising – more reading progress was made by 9-year-olds in five years than in the previous 28 years combined, and reading and math scores for 9-year-olds and fourth-graders have reached all-time highs.

* Reauthorization Offers An Opportunity To Make Some Common-Sense Changes To Strengthen NCLB And Increase Flexibility, But We Must Preserve NCLB's Core Principles:
o All students must be able to read and do math at grade level or above by 2014.
o We must have higher expectations and demand greater accountability in order to improve the academic achievement of every student and to close the achievement gap using annual assessments and disaggregated data.
o We must have effective teachers in core academic subjects in every classroom.
o We must provide timely information and real options – including intensive tutoring and choice for children in consistently underperforming schools – for all parents with children in failing schools so they can make the best decisions for their children.

* The President's Proposals To Strengthen NCLB Further The Goals Of His American Competitiveness Initiative. Math and science skills are critical for success in college and the workplace. Our students must be equipped with the knowledge and skills to compete in the global economy.

We Must Strengthen NCLB To Increase Flexibility And Help Struggling Schools Improve

1. We Must Encourage Higher Academic Standards And Further Increase The Quality Of Available Information On Student Performance.

* We Will Maintain Annual Academic Assessments And Accountability. States must continue to report student assessment results to parents and hold schools accountable for improving the performance of all students. The disaggregation of achievement results and required 95 percent participation rate must continue to ensure that schools cannot hide failure to teach every child.

* We Will Promote High State Academic Standards. To support greater transparency, we will require States to report the proficiency rates of both State and National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests on the same public report card. Further, the Education Department will support cross-State comparisons by providing a platform for States and the general public to analyze and compare standards across the Nation.

2. We Must Strengthen Our Public Schools With Incentives For School Reform And Empower Parents With Options For Students To Receive After-School Tutoring And Attend Higher-Performing Schools.

* We Will Target Resources To Help Struggling Schools Improve With School Improvement Grants. School Improvement Grants will support implementation of schools' restructuring plans and will support States' efforts to closely monitor and review those plans for each restructured school and to provide technical assistance to turn around low-performing schools.
* We Will Give States And Districts More Tools And Flexibility To Turn Struggling Schools Around. To make the accountability provisions of NCLB more meaningful, States will have more flexibility to precisely focus their technical assistance and interventions and direct resources to schools identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring.

* We Will Strengthen School Restructuring. Schools subject to restructuring for chronic underperformance will be required either to make substantial changes in staff or to reconstitute the schools' governance structure.

* We Will Require Persistently Underperforming Schools To Offer "Promise Scholarships." These scholarships will enable low-income students to transfer to private schools or out-of-district public schools, or receive intensive tutoring. Federal funds will follow the students to their new schools.

* We Will Offer Competitive Grants Through The "Opportunity Scholarships Program" To Help Communities Expand School Choice Options For Low-Income Parents And Students. Similar to the Washington, D.C., choice program that the Federal government has funded since 2004, families would be able to send their children to a private school through a locally designed scholarship program. They could also seek intensive tutoring.

* We Will Increase The Availability Of High-Quality Charter Schools, Which Provide Important Options For Parents. Charters will also have a greater degree of flexibility to use their grants in executing planning and startup activities.

* We Will Expand Access To Tutoring. We will ensure that districts notify parents whose children are eligible for tutoring and require school districts to make full use of the Federal funds set aside for tutoring and other school choice activities.

* We Will Help Parents Get The Information They Need In Time To Make Informed Decisions About Their Children's School Choice Options. We will strengthen enforcement mechanisms to ensure parents receive proper and timely notice of their tutoring and choice options, and school districts will be allowed to use Federal funds to conduct high-quality parent outreach campaigns.

3. We Must Help Teachers Close The Achievement Gap Through Incentives For Effective Teachers And Research-Based Instructional Tools.

* We Will Expand The Teacher Incentive Fund. The Teacher Incentive Fund supports State and local efforts to reward teachers who raise student achievement and work in needy schools.

* We Will Retain The Successful Reading First Program And Expand The Striving Readers Program To Ensure Students Have The Literacy Skills They Need To Make Academic Progress. Reading First is the largest, most focused, and most successful early reading initiative ever undertaken in this country. To date, more than 5,600 schools in 1,600 districts nationwide have participated in this program. The Striving Readers Program funds targeted, intensive intervention and quality literacy instruction in school curricula for grades 6-12.

4. We Must Incorporate The Education Components Of The American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI) Into NCLB, Thereby Raising The Rigor Of Our Nation's High Schools And Ensuring That Our Students Are Prepared For Success In The Competitive Global Economy.

* We Will Strengthen The Teaching Of Math In Elementary And Middle Schools By Implementing The Math Now Program Based On The Recommendations Of The National Math Panel, Both Key Components Of The ACI. This program will provide resources to help teachers use scientifically proven practices, including those soon to be recommended by the National Math Panel, so that students enter high school ready to take advanced coursework.

* We Will Increase Academic Rigor, As Outlined In The ACI, By Training More Teachers And Making Rigorous Advanced Placement Classes Available To More Low-Income Students.

* Academic Competitiveness Grants Will Be Used To Provide Further Incentives For Students To Complete A Rigorous High School Program Of Study. The program provides additional grant aid to low-income first- and second-year college students who complete a rigorous program of study in high school.

* We Will Encourage Talented Professionals, Especially In The Fields Of Math And Science, To Share Their Expertise In The Classroom Through The Adjunct Teacher Corps Proposed In ACI. Competitive grants will be provided for school districts to engage in partnerships with public and private organizations to take advantage of the expertise in their communities.

* We Will Encourage A Greater Focus On Science By Including Student Achievement Results In Science In Accountability Decisions. States will add science to their assessment systems at three grade levels by 2008. The reauthorized law will incorporate an expectation that all students achieve proficiency in science by the 2019-20 school year.

* We Will Commit Significant New Resources To Help High Schools Ensure Their Students Meet High Standards And Graduate On Time. To ensure that high schools have the resources to help low-income students, there will be a substantial increase in funds for Title I high school students. Districts will be required to give their high schools at least 90 percent of the high schools' proportionate share of the new funds. A corresponding funding increase will ensure that elementary schools' Title I programs are not negatively affected.

5. We Must Measure Individual Student Progress And Focus Interventions On Students Who Have Not Reached Grade Level.

* We Will Allow High-Quality Growth Models To Give Schools Credit For Improvement From Year-To-Year And Provide Another Way To Show Whether Achievement Gaps Are Closing. States with well-established assessments and robust data systems may use growth models in their overall accountability system. Growth models allow States to measure individual students' progress over time.

— Monty Neill and Jim Horn
Assessment Reform Network


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