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: Replacing No Child Left Behind

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  • BBracey@aol.com
    ... 230 G Street SW Washington, DC 202-484-0554 cell 202 285-3343 [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 26 1:03 PM
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      >
      > From Education Week [American Education's Newspaper of Record],
      > Wednesday, August 12, 2009, Volume 28, Issue 37, pp. 28-29.  See
      > http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2009/08/12/37rothstein.h28.html?r=1121464574
      >
      > COMMENTARY
      >
      > Replacing No Child Left Behind
      >
      > By Richard Rothstein
      >
      > While promoting health-care reform this summer in Green Bay, Wis.,
      > President Barack Obama took questions from the audience. One had nothing to do
      > with health, but is on the minds of parents and teachers everywhere: How do we
      > move the focus in education "away from single-day testing and test-driven
      > outcomes?" There was applause.
      >
      > Mr. Obama responded by saying that if all we are doing is giving
      > standardized tests and teaching to them, "that's not improving our education
      > system." (Again, the audience applauded.) He repeated an aphorism he'd heard in
      > rural Illinois: "Just weighing a pig doesn't fatten it." (Yet more applause.)
      >
      > The president then said that we need standardized testing, but that we
      > can't hold schools or teachers accountable for scores alone. We also must look
      > at the quality of students' ongoing work, and observe teachers in their
      > classrooms to make valid judgments about their effectiveness.
      >
      > This approach undermines the basis of the federal No Child Left Behind
      > Act, which now holds schools accountable only for math and reading scores. But
      > recent Washington policy talk seems mostly concerned with improving the
      > accuracy of math and reading tests. One common panacea offered is to compare
      > scores of the same students from one year to the next, rather than
      > comparing students in the same grade in successive years.
      >
      > Yet even if the statistical technology for such "value added" growth
      > models could be developed (a big "if," given student mobility, the unreliability
      > of a single test, and the nonrandom assignment of students to teachers),
      > this "improvement" would not address the more fundamental issue the
      > president raised: There's more to good education than math and reading scores.
      >
      > Last year, candidate Obama elaborated this theme. He said that No Child
      > Left Behind was "intended to raise standards in local schools." But what
      > happened, he said, was that, "because it relied on just a single standardized
      > test, schools felt pressured to just teach to the test." In many districts,
      > Mr. Obama maintained, teachers and principals have decided that if they are
      > to bring their students up to the proficient level, "all they can do is
      > just study math and reading every day, all day long. They've eliminated
      > recess, they've eliminated art and music."
      >
      > "So part of the solution," Mr. Obama concluded, "is changing No Child Left
      > Behind, so that the assessment is one that takes into account all the
      > factors that go into a good education."
      >
      > Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, of which
      > NCLB is the current version, has stalled because too few policymakers have
      > considered how to implement the balanced approach that Mr. Obama has
      > consistently invoked. Instead, mention of reauthorization paralyzes lawmakers, who
      > fear public reaction to more testing, more narrowing of curriculum, and
      > unrealistic expectations that schools can raise disadvantaged children's
      > achievement simply by pressing them to prepare better for tests.
      >
      > Soon after the president's Green Bay speech, the Broader, Bolder Approach
      > to Education  [see http://www.boldapproach.org/ ] campaign issued
      > recommendations about how this vision-holding schools accountable for a balanced set
      > of learning goals-could be put into practice. The policy proposals were
      > drafted by a diverse committee that included, among others, former assistant
      > secretaries of education in the Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II
      > administrations.
      >
      > The BBA report insists that designing better accountability will require
      > experimentation. States will need highly trained inspectors who look at test
      > data, but also visit schools to review students' written work, observe
      > teaching quality, evaluate student behavior and the school climate, and
      > determine whether schools provide appropriate social supports for children, by
      > coordinating with health and social service providers and striving to ensure
      > that appropriate early-childhood and after-school programs are available.
      >
      > Along with requiring states to develop qualitative school evaluation
      > systems, reauthorization should also expand the National Assessment of
      > Educational Progress, a federal test given to a sample of U.S. students. At present,
      > these samples are only large enough to provide state-by-state results in
      > reading and math. A recent arts assessment, for example, surveyed so few
      > students that we can't know how arts education compares between states, or the
      > extent to which disadvantaged children in the various states are getting
      > shortchanged in the arts. Congress should increase the sample sizes to
      > determine how states and their subgroups compare in the arts, history, sciences,
      > physical fitness, and work skills.
      >
      > In its early years, NAEP reported on such varied school outcomes. Since
      > the 1970s, however, the focus has been on getting more sophisticated math and
      > reading measurements, reinforcing schools' incentives to ignore other
      > knowledge and skills.
      >
      > As part of his embrace of common standards, U.S. Secretary of Education
      > Arne Duncan has pledged to give states $350 million of economic-stimulus
      > money to improve the quality of math and reading tests. We all want better math
      > and reading assessments. But we should also invest in better tests of
      > history, sciences, and the arts, and develop tools to evaluate student
      > behavior, judge a school's disciplinary climate, see whether students know how to
      > cooperate, and measure whether schools are enhancing physical fitness and
      > appropriate health choices and habits.
      >
      > The federal government should hold all schools accountable for such a
      > balanced approach-especially if the president wants continued applause when
      > answering questions about education improvement.
      > ----------------------------
      > Richard Rothstein is a research associate of the Economic Policy
      > Institute, a former national education columnist for The New York Times, and the
      > author of Grading Education: Getting Accountability Right (2008). He is a
      > member of the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education Task
      >
      >






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