05 October 2007

CONGRESSMAN GEORGE MILLER ON nclb (NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND)

*Below George's letter in a letter from parent & educational advocate Scottie Smith
 
 

-------------- Forwarded Message: --------------
From: "Miller, George" <George.Miller@...>
To: <rcs101@...>
Subject: RE: NCLB
Date: Wed, 3 Oct 2007 20:53:08 +0000
>
> Thank you for contacting me about the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).  I
> appreciate knowing of your concerns and point of view.
>
> Congress enacted NCLB six years ago to improve education by raising the
> expectations of what America's schools and schoolchildren could achieve.  We
> asked schools to make the performance of their students more transparent and to
> be held accountable for the performance of all children.  And we increased
> federal spending on schools and pledged even greater increases in the future. 
>
> As a result, we have witnessed positive changes.  Students have accomplished
> gains in reading and math proficiency.  The academic achievement gap between
> some groups of students has narrowed.  There are more qualified teachers in the
> classroom today.  But there is no question that much more needs to be done for
> our schools.  The President and the Republican Congress dramatically
> under-funded NCLB, for one, and in certain important respects, we just did not
> get everything right when we wrote the original law.
>
> As you may know, the House Education and Labor Committee, which I chair, is in
> the process of revising NCLB.  As part of this process, the committee has heard
> from parents, students, teachers, administrators and other educators about the
> impact of NCLB on student learning and achievement.  We have reviewed
> recommendations from more than 100 organizations with an interest in education
> policy.  These recommendations have been very helpful.  I have also traveled
> across the country and listened to the concerns voiced by teachers, students,
> administrators, parents, governors, and others. 
>
> NCLB has provoked an energetic national debate about our public schools and how
> best to target future investment in education.  Two overarching principles are
> guiding my thinking as we go forward:  1) We must stay true to the goals of
> improving accountability, narrowing the achievement gap, and ensuring that all
> students are taught to high academic standards, and; 2) Improvements to current
> law must be made to ensure that our education law is flexible, fair, and funded. 
> In August, we issued a bi-partisan "discussion draft" outlining the significant
> changes that we would like to make to NCLB.  Below is a description of some of
> the key changes we would like to make.
>
> 1. The heart of NCLB is accountability and we must continue to support
> meaningful accountability for all children.  But there are serious problems with
> the accountability system under current law.  Schools that do not make adequate
> gains with their students are all treated the same.  In the discussion draft, we
> address the "one-size-fits-all" concern by ensuring that schools that are close
> to making adequate yearly progress (AYP) are not subject to the same level of
> intervention as schools that are chronically struggling.  Those schools that
> consistently do not make AYP will receive more intensive support. With these
> additional supports, we expect that instructional practices will improve and
> that the children in these schools will make significant academic gains.
>
> 2. Many Americans believe that our schools should not be evaluated solely
> by the results of one test administered on one day.  I agree. The discussion
> draft institutes much-needed fairness and flexibility by allowing the use of
> additional measures of success that would assess school performance more
> accurately.  For elementary schools, these "multiple indicators" include
> increases in the percentages of students who move from below basic to basic
> levels of proficiency and improvements in state science, writing, history,
> social studies, or civics tests.  In high schools, the additional indicators of
> school success could include all the indicators allowed for elementary schools
> as well as graduation rates, the percentage of students successfully completing
> Advanced Placement or other college preparation courses, and other factors. 
> Emphasis will continue to be on student reading and math achievement, but by
> revising the accountability system to include multiple indicators we can provide
> a more fair, comprehensive, and accurate picture of how schools are doing.
>
> 3. Under the current accountability system, schools make AYP only when a
> set percentage of students reach an established mark at a given time, regardless
> of their students' wide range of starting points in terms of proficiency.  The
> discussion draft allows states to use "growth models" that give schools credit
> for the progress they have made with all students, including low-performing and
> high-performing students.  The discussion draft does not mandate one specific
> growth model, thus allowing for innovation as new models are developed.  Growth
> models emphasize strong accountability and flexibility. 
>
> 4. Concerns have been raised about the quality of tests that are used to
> measure student performance. Many people believe that standardized tests do not
> provide an accurate measure of student performance.  We want our students to be
> able to use critical thinking skills to solve problems.  But, these skills are
> difficult to measure using traditional standardized tests.  The discussion draft
> supports the development of better tests, ones that are aligned to standards and
> include items like performance measures and essays that more effectively measure
> higher-order thinking and problem-solving skills.  The discussion draft includes
> a pilot project that allows states to include local tests in addition to their
> state assessments.  The inclusion of "local assessment" data in the state's
> assessment system strikes a balance between standardized test scores and the
> authentic measures of student performance that occur in our classrooms. 
>
> 5. The fairness and appropriateness of tests used to measure the
> achievement of students with disabilities and students who are English Language
> Learners (ELLs) has also been questioned.  In the discussion draft, provisions
> are made for states to develop alternative tests that can be based on modified
> standards for students with disabilities. Alternative tests would be developed
> that test ELL students in their native language. Federal funding will be
> provided to states to develop or improve the quality of these tests so that they
> better measure what students know and can do. 
>
> 6. From our conversations with higher education and business groups, it is
> clear that too many of our graduates are not prepared to enter the workforce or
> succeed in college without remediation.  Our students must be prepared to think
> creatively, to work in teams, and to be innovative.  The discussion draft
> encourages employers and colleges to work collaboratively with states to develop
> more rigorous standards so that the learning environment is challenging and
> based on best practices and innovation.  Incentives will be provided to states
> that elect to commit to preparing their students for the jobs and universities
> of the future. 
>
> 7. We are facing a very real teacher shortage crisis.  We must increase the
> number of outstanding teachers, especially in urban and rural communities and in
> subjects for which there are shortages such as math, science, and foreign
> languages.  Special education and ELL teachers are also in demand.  The
> discussion draft provides incentives - including "performance pay" based on fair
> and proven models, career ladders, and teacher mentoring programs - that will
> help recruit and retain outstanding teachers into the classrooms that need them
> most.  School districts could pay annual bonuses of up to $12,500 per year to
> outstanding teachers who teach in high-need schools for four years.
>
> Our public schools play many critical roles in our society.  Discovery,
> innovation, and economic advancement all begin in the classroom.  A high quality
> education system is indispensable to a strong and just society.  It is now time
> to change our key federal education law in ways that ensures strong
> accountability but also the fairness, flexibility and funding necessary to make
> it successful.  The changes we are pursuing will make a big difference for our
> children, our schools, and our country. 
>
> Thank you again for contacting me. 
>
> Sincerely,
>
>
>
> GEORGE MILLER
> Member Of Congress, 7th District
>
> PS: If you would like to receive updates about my work in Congress and
> announcements of upcoming town meetings and other events, please sign up for the
> Miller E-Updates on my website at
> www.house.gov/georgemiller/eletterregister.html 
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: rcs101@... [mailto:rcs101@...]
> Sent: Wednesday, October 03, 2007 2:04 PM
> To: Miller, George
> Subject: NCLB
>
>
>
>
> --Dear Congressman Miller:
>
> I write to support the reauthorization of NCLB with some modifications. First, I
> believe the State and Federal mandates relating to "Highly Qualified" teachers
> is a term that has put many district in a position where the local authorities
> have little or no say in the definition of the term. It has also, left these
> district in the position of not being able to provide consistency in the
> education of its students. As you know, consistency is one of the most important
> things in the rearing and education of a child. Therefore, a district could have
> a teacher with a college education and had passed the CBEST, but said teacher
> could not remain in the same class for a year, because of "NCLB's Highly
> Qualified" regulations.
>
> I am not proposing that teachers should be allowed to remain in a school if they
> are not competent to teach the subject matter. On the contrary, I believe that
> school district should have a say in determination of competency. Districts
> should not be sanction because they fail to retain credential teacher,
> especially, when the teaching field is lacking in terms of such professional. It
> is my believe that many young college graduates have the energy and knowhow to
> teach in many of our Title I schools, but because of the many hoops they must
> face in order to stay in the same class and move toward the decision process of
> continuing their education, leads many to take  a "don't care attitude and a
> quick money avenue", because the rules does not allow them to attach themselves
> with the students and schools. It is my belief that if they knew they could stay
> at a particular site for sometime, most young professional would bond with the
> school community and move to acquire the necessary credential.
>    
>  Scottie Smith 
>    
>


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