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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

NCLB and Margaret Spellings

Today's NY Times reported on the efforts of Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings to adjust NCLB so that states would support it instead of the rising tide of efforts to dismantle it. Her explanation?

"Ms. Spellings said she was proposing the fixes because efforts in Congress to rewrite the legislation have stalled and because “everywhere I go I meet parents who are demanding change.” "

With the Bush administration on its last legs, it doesn't seem like her ideas will go anywhere but here are some of them:

-requiring states to use a single federal formula to calculate and report high school graduation rates. Interestingly:

"Ms. Spellings’s proposed regulations would require states to calculate their graduation rates in a uniform way by the 2012-13 school year, using a formula that in 2005 all 50 governors agreed to adopt. In the years since, only a dozen or so states have done so. Under the formula, graduation rates are calculated by dividing the number of students who receive a traditional high school diploma in any given year by the number of first-time ninth graders who entered four years earlier, adjusted for students who transfer in and out."

-require schools to notify parents of their right to transfer students out of failing schools two weeks before the start of each school year

-explain more fully to parents the opportunities for federally financed tutoring that are available to students attending troubled schools

Fine ideas all but how come it takes this long to figure this out?

Her ideas met a mixed reception.

“This is the boldest sidestep around the Congress that I’ve ever seen,” said Bruce Hunter, a lobbyist for the American Association of School Administrators. “She’s trying to rewrite the law without benefit of Congressional action. I’d be surprised if lawmakers let this go.”

Bruce Fuller, a professor of education at Berkeley, said the graduation rate proposal and others amounted to “an imperious new set of mandates,” while others seemed aimed at giving states the flexibility they have demanded in enacting the law.

(Senator Kennedy) "Mr. Kennedy said the proposals “include important improvements for implementing No Child Left Behind, even as Congress considers further reforms to the law.”

(Representative Miller) "Mr. Miller called Ms. Spellings’ proposals “a series of piecemeal changes to a law that really needs a comprehensive overhaul.”

According to the article Ms. Spellings will issue final regulations in November and they will take effect a month later.

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