Reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) — that is, rewriting No Child Left Behind — is on the agenda this year, notes National Journal’s Education Experts. Bipartisan agreement is possible on “fixing the accountability system, targeting interventions at the lowest-performing schools, advancing teacher evaluation and improvement systems, and restoring some flexibility to states,” according to Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa.
Bipartisanship could mean catering to the “worst instincts of both parties,” warns Sandy Kress, who was a Bush education adviser.
A bill that merely “fixes” NCLB by gutting accountability and strutting pretty words about high standards and “flexibility” for the states would be a pitiful and unworthy next step.
It’s easy to criticize NCLB, but it’s going to be difficult to improve it, writes Steve Peha of Teaching That Makes Sense.
People don’t like AYP. Fine. Come up with a better way to tell schools and the people who go to them how they’re doing. People don’t like testing. Fine. Come up with a better way—a viable, actionable, scaleable way—that we can get a read on how kids are doing in school. Same goes for teacher quality. Don’t like VAMs and being held accountable for student progress under measures you don’t trust? Propose other approaches that help teachers improve, reward people for results, and increase the respect of the profession.
NCLB forced “serious discussion of serious ways to help seriously disadvantaged kids,” Peha writes. We can’t give that up.
Drop annual testing in third through eighth grade, advises Monty Neill of Fair Test. One test in elementary, middle and high school is enough.