Tag Archives: NCLB

The Science of Making Up Stuff – Lily’s Blackboard – Lily’s Blackboard

22 Jan

I took a deep, cleansing yoga breath and watched some panel of puny pontificators, who have never stepped in front of a class of 36 hormonally-challenged 7th grade unconscientious objectors to homework, sanctimoniously agree amongst themselves that the only problem with schools these days is: Bad Teachers.

Good Teachers have no problems. So. When there were problems, it must because of: Bad Teachers. I took another yoga breath, threw a pillow at the TV and screamed my best ten potty words. Namaste.

Schools are the current topic of conversation because it’s time to reauthorize the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which provides modest federal education funding for children disadvantaged by poverty, discrimination, disability and language barriers. A Good Thing.

When last reauthorized, it was rebaptized “No Child Left Behind.” Not a Good Thing for many reasons, the least of which is that it mandates what competent researchers have found to be Highly Stupid Tests. Continue reading


Study on Teacher Value Uses Data From Before Teach-to-Test Era – NYTimes.com

16 Jan

My four children have all attended public schools in our middle-class suburban district. When my oldest was in fourth grade, in 1998, he took the state tests, and I was not even aware of it. Later, he said the tests were kind of fun; he got to miss his regular classes.

Six years later, in 2004, our daughter was in fourth grade. Long before the state tests, a letter came home. Prep classes were being offered before and after school. While the sessions were not mandatory, students were strongly urged to attend.

Eventually the results were printed in our local newspaper. The news was grim; the nearby districts, in wealthier towns, had creamed us. The following year, our middle school added a mandatory course to prep for the state English test.

That 1998/2004 divide — what happened in the interim was the 2002 No Child Left Behind law — should be kept in mind when analyzing a new, widely publicized study that closely tracked 2.5 million students over 20 years to determine whether teachers who helped raise children’s test scores have a lasting effect on their lives. The researchers conclude that having such a teacher improved students’ odds of going to a good college, the quality of the neighborhoods where they lived and their lifetime earnings. Continue reading

America’s Teachers See Growing Poverty Up Close

14 Jan

If you want to know the human impact of the current recession, ask America’s teachers

ne of the things I’ve discovered in recent years is that when it comes to education policy, the last people asked for input are America’s teachers. We have a President who holds an “education summit” that includes the nation’s top business leaders and foundation heads, but no teachers; we have billionaires lobbying to privatize education and break teachers unions; we have an organization that purports to work for educational equity that encourages its recruits to leave teaching after two years because they can influence policy more by moving into other, more prestigious careers, rather than spending a lifetime as a “mere teacher.” Continue reading

Education Week: House ESEA Draft Would Rein in Federal Accountability Rules

9 Jan

House Republicans released two draft bills that would significantly scale back the federal role in K-12 schools and go further than any other proposal yet to dismantle the accountability tenets at the heart of the decade-old No Child Left Behind Act.The measures, put forth by U.S. Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee today, take some of the same steps as a bipartisan Senate rewrite of NCLB—and the Obama administration’s own vision for rewriting the law. Like those proposals, the Republican bills would entirely scrap the law’s signature yardstick, adequate yearly progress, or AYP, while largely keeping NCLB’S current testing schedule in place. “Obama Outlines NCLB Flexibility,” September 28, 2011. Continue reading

Escaping the constraints of ‘No Child Left Behind’ – The Washington Post

7 Jan

By Arne Duncan, Published: January 6

Ten years ago today, President Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act. The law has improved American education in some ways, but it also still has flaws that need to be fixed.

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) for the first time exposed achievement gaps and created a conversation about how to close them. The law has held schools accountable for the performance of all students no matter their race, income level, English-proficiency or disability. Schools can no longer point to average scores while hiding an achievement gap that is morally unacceptable and economically unsustainable. Continue reading

Kline Releases Draft Accountability, Teacher Effectiveness Legislation | Education & the Workforce Committee

6 Jan

WASHINGTON, D.C. | January 6, 2012 –

U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN) today released two pieces of draft legislation to reform current elementary and secondary education law, known as No Child Left Behind. The proposals will improve accountability, increase flexibility, and support more effective teachers in the classroom.

“The upcoming 10 year anniversary of No Child Left Behind provides an opportunity to reflect on the challenges and opportunities facing our nation’s classrooms,” said Chairman Kline. “There is a strong sense of urgency that the heavy-handed law must be reformed to ensure more children have access to the quality education they deserve.

“Today, I’m pleased to release draft legislation that will change the status quo and put more control into the hands of the teachers, principals, superintendents, and parents who know the needs of children best. This is not final legislation. It is a step forward in the ongoing debate on the best way to improve education in America.

“Regardless of the differences between elected leaders in Washington, education reform is an issue that will shape future generations, and we cannot afford to let the conversation stall. I look forward to gaining input from my Congressional colleagues, state and local leaders, and the American public on our ideas for recruiting more talented teachers, boosting accountability for school and student performance, and encouraging innovation and creativity in the classroom.”

The Student Success Act and the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act builds on the committee’s previous legislative efforts to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which has been due for reauthorization since 2007.


No Child Left Behind fundamentally altered K-12 education in America by shining new light on the performance of individual schools and students. However, some areas of the law have failed to work in our nation’s classrooms and must be changed. For example, the law’s accountability system, known as Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), is a one-size-fits-all metric that restricts states’ and school districts’ ability to appropriately gauge student learning and tailor curriculum accordingly.

The Student Success Act offers a better way forward for education reform by:

Returning responsibility for student achievement to states, school districts, and parents, while maintaining high expectations.

Providing states and school districts greater flexibility to meet students’ unique needs.

Investing limited taxpayer dollars wisely.

Strengthening programs for schools and targeted populations.

Maintaining and strengthening long-standing protections for state and local autonomy.

To read a summary of the Student Success Act, click here. To read the draft legislation, click here.


The Elementary and Secondary Education Act currently includes more than 80 K-12 programs. Despite the tripling of overall per pupil funding and countless programs created by Congress since 1965, national academic performance has stagnated. Many federal education programs overlap and have little effect on student achievement. Other programs, created decades ago, are outdated and do not reflect current practices or priorities from the local, state, or federal level. Finally, current ESEA programs provide parents and students with few school choice options and offer states and school districts little flexibility in how they can use federal dollars to meet their unique needs.

The Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act offers a better way forward for education reform by:

Providing information to parents on teacher effectiveness.

Increasing school choice and engaging parents in their child’s education.

Increasing state and local innovation to reform public education.

Eliminating unnecessary and ineffective federal programs.

Supporting Impact Aid.

To read a summary of the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act, click here. To read the draft legislation, click here.

via Kline Releases Draft Accountability, Teacher Effectiveness Legislation | Education & the Workforce Committee.

Alan Singer: Obama’s Educational Report Card Grade Is F

19 Dec

In a recent 60 Minutes interview, President Obama told Americans, “Don’t judge me against the Almighty; judge me against the alternative.” While he was referring to the potential Republican candidates in the 2012 election campaign, there is another way to interpret the phrase and to evaluate the Obama Presidency. What alternative programs could the Obama Administration have implemented if it was less committed to compromise and willing to fight harder for principles? In education, Obama had many alternatives. Obama could have studied harder; he could have been more creative; he could have played better with teachers, parents, children, and public schools; and he could have offered onto other people’s children the kind of education he demanded for his own. He could have resisted turning the keys to the Treasury over to well-connected edu-companies. Based on his first three years in office, the Obama Educational Report Card Grade is a very disappointing “F” for failure. If he was a New York City high school, Mayor Bloomberg would be pushing to close him down. Continue reading

Interview with Diane Ravitch: California’s Rejection of NCLB Waivers Sends a Message – Living in Dialogue – Education Week Teacher

16 Dec

California, with more public school students than any other state, has surprised many by declining to apply for waivers to No Child Left Behind. The implications of this decision are far-reaching, and so in the coming weeks I am going to be asking a variety of educational leaders for their thoughts. Today, I am sharing the thoughts of education historian Diane Ravitch.

What do you think of the decision by elected leaders in California to forgo the opportunity to apply for waivers to NCLB?

I was very pleased when California decided to turn down the waivers for California. I think it took a lot of courage by Governor Brown and Superintendent Torlakson.

What do you think the down side of applying for these waivers would have been?

One of the many problems with NCLB is that it came packaged with unrealistic, expensive and heavy-handed federal mandates. It put too much emphasis on testing and punishment for failure to reach impossible goals. The waivers now offered by the US Department of Education require the states to comply with other mandates, still tied to the NCLB-style accountability framework. The emphasis on testing under the waiver plan is as heavy-handed as it has been under NCLB. Many schools with high numbers of low-scoring students will be subject to firings and closings. They need help, not punishment. One of the lessons of NCLB is that the federal government does not know how to improve schools. Continue reading

Duncan’s Dilemma: What will be Done to States without NCLB Waivers? – Living in Dialogue – Education Week Teacher

16 Dec

As No Child Left Behind becomes an ever bigger disaster, Secretary Duncan faces a major dilemma. How can he continue to enforce this law he has declared a train wreck?

Last spring, in an attempt to goad Congress into accepting his formula for revising No Child Left Behind, Education Secretary Arne Duncan made some dire predictions.

In his testimony, he said:

…we did an analysis which shows that — next year — the number of schools not meeting their goals under NCLB could double to over 80 percent — even if we assume that all schools will gain as much as the top quartile in the state.

So let me repeat that: four out of five schools in America many not meet their goals under NCLB by next year. The consequences under the current law are very clear: states and districts all across American may have to intervene in more and more schools each year, implementing the exact same interventions regardless of the schools’ individual needs.

The latest news indicates that Secretary Duncan was a bit off in his prediction. According to an analysis by the Center on Education Policy, “only” 48% of the nation’s schools will be failures according to the NCLB yardstick. There are indications that some states may have softened up their requirements, and clearly we have different measurement systems in place, when we see that 81% of the schools in Massachusetts will fail, while only 22% of those in Louisiana will do so. It is unlikely the schools in Louisiana are that much better than those in Massachusetts. Test scores and proficiency rates are subject to manipulation for political and financial purposes – and that is what NCLB has been all about from the start. Continue reading

Open Letter to Jon Stewart: Please Interview Your Mother – Living in Dialogue – Education Week Teacher

16 Dec

Dear Jon Stewart,

Your show Wednesday night with White House domestic affairs chief Melody Barnes was remarkable, in that you showed a far greater depth of understanding of education issues than did your guest.

When you asked Ms. Barnes what work she felt proudest of, she said “…the work we have done around education has been a game-changer.” What a word. Where have I heard that before? Oh yes. That was George W. Bush’ Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings’ favorite way of describing NCLB — see here, here, and here.

Unfortunately the White House is still playing the same games, and we are still waiting for a change. Continue reading

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