[lg policy] Obama ’s education secretary seeks parents’, educators’ comments on No Child Left Behind law

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Thu Sep 24 13:38:08 UTC 2009

Obama’s education secretary seeks parents’, educators’ comments on No
Child Left Behind law

Libby Quaid September 23rd, 2009

White House backs accountability of ‘No Child’ law

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is committed to the testing and
school accountability at the heart of the No Child Left Behind law
championed by former President George W. Bush, Education Secretary
Arne Duncan said. In a speech prepared for delivery Thursday, Duncan
gave the law credit for shining a spotlight on kids who need the most
help. No Child Left Behind pushes schools to boost the performance of
minority and poor children, who lag behind their white peers on
standardized tests. Duncan said there is plenty he wants to change
about the law. He agreed with critics that standardized tests are not
ideal measures of student achievement. Yet “they are the best we have
at the moment,” Duncan said.

“Until states develop better assessments,” he said, “we must rely on
standardized tests to monitor progress.” Duncan noted the
administration is giving states money through the economic stimulus
law to come up with better assessments. He planned to make the speech
in a meeting with leaders of more than 160 different groups at the
Education Department. Thursday’s was the first in a series of meetings
with the groups. In the speech, he said the administration wants their
input before making a formal proposal. Whatever the administration
decides to do, it needs the approval of Congress, which passed the law
with broad bipartisan support in 2001 but deadlocked over a rewrite in
2007. Lawmakers plan to try again in 2010.

Duncan said kids can’t afford more delays. After nearly half a century
of direct federal involvement in schools, he said, “we are still
waiting for the day when every child in America has a high quality
education that prepares him or her for the future. “We’re still
waiting, and we can’t wait any longer,” he said. While the law has
helped improve the academic performance of many minority kids,
English-language learners and kids with disabilities, critics say the
law is too punitive: More than a third of schools failed to meet
yearly progress goals last year, according to the Education Week

That means millions of children are a long way from reaching the law’s
ambitious goals. The law pushes schools to improve test scores each
year, so that every student can read and do math on grade level by the
year 2014. Opponents insist the law’s annual reading and math tests
have squeezed subjects like music and art out of the classroom and
that schools were promised billions of dollars they never received.


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