Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Hinting ain't enough

I've been writing a lot about the increasing number of states that are voicing opposition to NCLB -- loudly -- so it only makes sense that I would point to this story in today's edition of EdWeek:

Published: March 23, 2005

Spellings Hints at More Flexibility on NCLB

Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings is hinting at some new flexibility for states trying to comply with the No Child Left Behind Act when it comes to students with disabilities and limited English skills, and for making the calculations that determine whether schools and districts will face sanctions.

In a March 13 speech at the Council of the Great City Schools’ annual legislative conference in Washington, Ms. Spellings stressed there were some issues the Bush administration would not budge on, including the law’s requirement for annual testing in certain grades and the breaking down of data by race, socioeconomic status, and other subgroups.

But since becoming secretary in January, Ms. Spellings has settled long-standing disputes with some states over issues such as teacher-quality requirements and how to determine which school districts qualify as being in need of improvement.

At the conference last week, according to Jeff Simmering, the legislative director for the council, she told attendees that the Department of Education is eyeing ways to make the law less rigid and incorporate suggestions from states with concerns about the provisions on students with disabilities and those learning English.

“She clearly said they were looking at a variety of areas of flexibility,” said Mr. Simmering, whose Washington-based organization represents 65 of the country’s largest urban school districts. She also “made mention” of the idea of a value-added or growth model to help calculate adequate yearly progress under the law, he said.

She's going to have to do more than hint to stop the opposition of Texas, Virginia, Utah, Minnesota, Connecticut, and others from turning into an avalanche. But in the words of BTO, b-b-baby we just ain't seen nothin' yet.

I did notice that Spellings caved quickly when the Governor of California requested leniency for his state. A little starstruck, Madame Secretary?


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