Thursday, May 18, 2006

Changes to NCLB

Via EducationWonk, a discussion of some changes to NCLB. The Washington Post article is here; the press release it is based on is here. According to the Post:

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings announced yesterday that under a new pilot program, North Carolina and Tennessee will be the first states permitted to change the way they assess student progress under the federal No Child Left Behind law.

The "growth model" assessment will allow the schools to be in compliance by measuring the progress of individual students annually, instead of an entire grade of different students.


Many schools prefer the growth model to the current policy because they believe it gives them more flexibility to meet the standards by showing that individual students are improving.

EdWonk is uninmpressed:

It's so nice to see that the Secretary is being, as she calls it, "Open Minded." I wonder if she'll ever be "open minded" enough to call for parents to step-up and do their part in helping to ensure that their children have the greatest chance of achieving academic success by getting kids to school on time, well rested and prepared to learn?

Maybe Spellings would be "open minded" enough to come into my classroom and model for me exactly what I should do when the parent of one of my 173 students refuses to come to the school for a conference, answer the phone, or even come to the door and speak with me or any other school employee?

With all respect to EdWonk: tough nuts. NCLB targets schools because Education is the schools responsibility, and if it did not set high standrads the sclerotic bureaucracies of districts and state governemnts would be more successful than they already have been at defeating the puropse of the law. Schools are also the target because of all the things that are wrong with education, the schools are the thing that government can best effect.

Educators no longer have the luxury of blaming someone else when things go wrong. They have to find a way to reach even the poorest students. It possibly means they have to give up on fads like Whole Math and suffer from the stress of negative evaluations, but in return for government jobs, government pensions, and tenure, it's really not too much to ask.

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