10 big issues for ESEA

Fordham’s ESEA Briefing Book looks at the 10 issues that must be resolved to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (also known as No Child Left Behind).

It’s party time for Jay Greene, who has a drinking game linked to frequent mentions of  “tight-loose” regulation.

Fordham frames a debate between people who want the feds to mandate something, such as standards and cut scores, and those who want federal money without mandates, Greene writes.

Fordham takes the middle ground of saying that the feds should mandate standards, cut scores, etc… or allow states to prove to a panel of experts that their alternative approach is at least as good.

The alternative is worthless, Greene argues. “The burden of proving the merit of your alternative choices would effectively compel you to comply with the mandate.” And “more committees of so-called experts” is not what we need in education.

Fordham’s false middle isn’t the only sensible alternative, Greene argues.

I support a limited role of the federal government in education to facilitate the education of students who are significantly more expensive to educate, such as disabled students, English language learners, and students from very disadvantaged backgrounds. Only the federal government can ensure this type of “redistributive” policy in education because if localities attempted to serve more expensive students they would attract those expensive students while driving away their tax base.

Fordham is big on “college and career readiness,” Greene adds. So is the Gates Foundation.

No one knows what college and career ready means. It has no clear, technical, objective definition. It is yet another political slogan substituting for an idea with actual substance, sort of like “reform realism” or “tight-loose.”

And yet this empty slogan is the entire purpose of the nationalization project on which Fordham-Gates-AFT-U.S. Dept of Ed are embarked. Only in the D.C. bubble of power-hungry analysts who provide no actual analysis could we launch a radical transformation of our education system with little more than a series of empty slogans. It’s enough to make you drink.

Kevin Kosar is blogging on Federal Education Policy History.  Check out the graph on the use of “failing school” over time.

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Comments

  1. Sandra Stotsky says:

    Sandra Stotsky’s Ten Steps to a Better ESEA (with apologies to the Fordham Institute):?

    How to re-authorize ESEA so that it might actually upgrade K-12 education.?

    ?1. Issue: Standards on which State Tests Are to be Based
    Recommendation: As a condition of receiving federal Title I funds, require states to use a set of ?K-12 standards in mathematics, science, and English that have been judged to be internationally ?benchmarked by a state-level committee of discipline-based academic experts, chosen by ?presidents of colleges/universities in the state. ?

    ?2. Issue: Teachers’ Academic Competence
    Recommendation: As a condition of receiving federal Title I funds, require states to develop or ?use licensure tests of subject matter knowledge for prospective K-12 teachers of academic ?subjects that have been approved by a state-level committee of discipline-based academic experts ?selected by the presidents of the state’s colleges and universities, as well as by eight parents with ?professional specializations in the relevant licensure field, selected by Parent Teacher ?Organizations in the state. ?

    ?3. Issue: Biennial Objective Tests in 3-7?
    Recommendation: As a condition of receiving federal Title I funds, require states to use at least ?one objective test, in addition to any others the state chooses to use, to assess students every two ?years in mathematics and reading, in grades 3, 5, and 7.?

    ?4. Issue: Objective Tests at High School Level
    Recommendation: As a condition of receiving federal Title I funds, require states to use end-of-?course tests for the following subjects, in addition to any others the state chooses to use, to assess ?students in grade 8, 9, 10, 11, or 12: algebra I, algebra II, geometry, pre-calculus, physics with ?lab, chemistry with lab, biology with lab, and earth science with lab. Test content must be ?approved by a state-level committee of discipline-based academic experts, chosen by presidents ?of colleges/universities in the state. The state board of education will decide which tests and ?how many tests need to be passed by students for a high school diploma. ?

    ?5. Issue: Cut Scores
    Recommendation: As a condition of receiving federal Title I funds, require states to use cut ?scores that have been determined for four different performance categories by a state-level ?committee that includes at least four discipline-based academic experts in the state, chosen by ?presidents of colleges/universities in the state, as well as four legislators chosen by the governor ?and eight parents chosen by Parent Teacher Organizations (PTOs) in the state. ?
    ? ?
    ?6. Issue: Growth Measures
    Recommendation: As a condition of receiving federal Title I funds, require states to use growth ?measures that include objective tests of academic achievement.?

    ?7. Issue: Science and History Assessments
    Recommendation: As a condition of receiving federal Title I funds, require states to use science ?and history standards that have been approved by a state-level committee of discipline-based ?academic experts, chosen by presidents of colleges/universities in the state, as well as four ?legislators chosen by the governor and eight parents chosen by Parent Teacher Organizations ??(PTOs) in the state.?

    ?8. Issue: School Ratings
    Recommendation: As a condition of receiving federal Title I funds, require states to rate all ?schools on the extent of progress made in increasing the percentage of students in each of the top ?three performance categories. Disaggregated data must be reported on the percentages of ?students in all four performance categories by gender. Schools should be also rated on regularly ?increasing the number and percentage of students passing an authentic Algebra I end-of-course ?test by the end of grade 8. Eliminate AYP.?

    ?9. Issue: Alternative High School Curriculum Options
    Recommendation: As a condition of receiving federal Title I funds, require states to ensure that ?
    all grade 8 students have a choice in the four-year high school curriculum they follow (e.g., a high ?school of performing arts, a high school of foreign languages/humanities study, a high school of ?mathematics and science, a high school for career/technical education). To decrease significantly ?the drop-out rate, choices must be made available for grade 9 before the end of the compulsory ?schooling age is reached. ?

    ?10. Issue: Requirements for a High School Diploma
    Recommendation: As a condition of receiving federal Title I funds, require states to ensure that ?all high school students meet the requirements for a high school diploma set by the legislature ?and state board of education. Students who choose to attend a four-year career/technical high ?school must also earn an occupational certificate of their choice for a high school diploma. ?

  2. Roger Sweeny says:

    A radical thought:

    Recommendations 1-10. From the federal government to the 50 states: do what you please and raise your own money. It didn’t work before but what we’ve been doing hasn’t worked either, and we’re running short of money.