Panel Recommends No Child Left Behind Changes
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
Today, a bipartisan panel called for changes to No Child Left Behind. The major education law is up for reauthorization by Congress this year and the panel wants to see a push for new national testing standards.
But as NPR's Elaine Korry reports, the proposed changes may not be enough to win over some states that have called for a radical overhaul.
ELAINE KORRY: More of the same, but with lots of tweaking. That's the recommendation of the independent No Child Left Behind Commission. It spent the past year touring the nation to learn first hand how the five-year-old law actually works. And despite calls for many changes, commission co-chairman Tommy Thompson wants to keep all the basics.
Mr. TOMMY THOMPSON (No Child Left Behind Commission): We must assure that our children are challenge in all subjects that are important to their future success. And we must make sure that high-quality options such as public school choice and tutoring are available and easily accessible for all eligible children.
KORRY: There are a few proposed changes states have been clamoring for. One allows them to measure each student's progress overtime, rather than a snapshot approach comparing this year's fourth graders to last year's. Other proposals would give failing schools more help, but also tougher sanctions if they don't improve. Andrew Rotherham, with the think tank Education Sector, gives the commission report high marks.
Mr. ANDREW ROTHERHAM (Education Sector): Overall, very thoughtful and very detailed.
KORRY: Rotherham says the call for a national standard will make headlines, but also spark a long political battle. In the meantime, he hopes lawmakers don't lose side of the report's smaller but more feasible recommendations. For instance, says Rotherham, a new emphasis on tying teacher quality to results in the classroom.
Mr. ROTHERHAM: For the first time, it's going to start pushing states to hold teachers accountable not for the credentials they have, but for how well their students do.
KORRY: Mike Petrilli, with the Thomas Fordham Foundation, wants accountability coupled with a lot more flexibility for states and school districts. Instead, says Petrilli, the report endorses an even bigger role for the feds.
Mr. MIKE PETRILLI (Thomas Fordham Foundation): It doesn't seem to take into account the backlash against No Child Left Behind. Instead, it says we should have even more regulations and we're going to hope that this time it's going to work out better because we said so.
KORRY: Petrilli says Democrats might see this report as the first draft of an improved law, but he doesn't think Republicans will agree. And he's predicting a big partisan fight over reauthorization.
Elaine Korry, NPR News.
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