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Duncan offers ‘guiding principles’ for rewriting NCLB

Tighter standards, more flexibility for schools among the administration’s focus as officials seek a new education law

Duncan offers ‘guiding principles’ for rewriting NCLB
“We should be tight on standards … but loose about how to get there,” Duncan said.

“We should be tight on standards … but loose about how to get there,” Duncan said.

Calling No Child Left Behind a “blunt instrument” that placed more emphasis on defining failure than encouraging success, Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Feb. 12 outlined the Obama administration’s vision for rewriting the nation’s education law.

Speaking to school superintendents during the American Association of School Administrators’ National Conference on Education, Duncan identified three principles that will guide the administration’s approach toward rewriting NCLB: (1) higher standards, (2) rewarding excellence, and (3) a “smarter, tighter federal role” in ensuring that all students succeed.

“I’ll always give credit to NCLB for exposing achievement gaps and advancing standards-based reform. But better than anyone, you know [the law’s] shortcomings,” Duncan told the assembled education leaders. “NCLB allows, even encourages, states to lower their standards. In too many classrooms, it encourages teachers to narrow the curriculum. It relies too much on bubble tests in a couple of subjects. It mislabels schools, even when they are showing progress on important measures.”

He added: “NCLB required you to intervene in schools in a prescribed way, and the accountability system didn’t measure growth. It didn’t differentiate between a school in a little bit of trouble with a handful of students and a school that was in educational meltdown.”

Duncan said he and President Obama believe “we should be tight on standards … but loose about how to get there.”

States should set the bar high when establishing their academic standards, he said, adding that all students should graduate from high school “career or college-ready, without the need for remediation.”

But schools should have more flexibility in how they get all students to achieve, he said, noting: “The federal government needs to help strike the right balance between flexibility and accountability—offering support, not prescriptions.”

For chronically underperforming schools—the bottom 5 percent of all schools—“we are going to ask for rigorous change,” Duncan said. But in most schools, he said, administrators “will have more flexibility than under NCLB to improve educational outcomes.”

And the top-performing schools—which have been largely ignored until now—would receive incentives to “help lead the way to replicating academic excellence,” he said.

In striking a balance between flexibility and accountability, the administration wants to reward excellence “to encourage state and local educators to challenge themselves and hold themselves accountable,” Duncan said. “To compete in the global economy, we are going to have to fund what works, revisit conventional wisdom, and move outside comfort zones.”

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Comments:

  1. tkhk3746

    February 15, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    Once again…yet another administration who is dancing around the real problem…IF parents, gov’t officials, and the “powers that be” have issues with the way their teachers are educating kids today….START CLAMPING DOWN ON THESE COLLEGES WHERE PROSPECTIVE TEACHERS ARE EARNING DEGREES!.. The hoops a teacher has to jump through successfully JUST to enter and education program the numerous times he/she is “mentored”, “critiqued”, “tested”, “evaluated”….IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF college professors, advisers, department heads, cooperating teachers, principals, superintendents…ALL who place these “teachers” in classrooms across this country! THAT IS WHERE YOU WILL FIND THE TRUE GAP”!!! I FIND IT INSIDIOUS THAT NO ADMINISTRATION CAN FIGURE THIS OUT. STOP BLAMING APPOINTED TEACHERS WHO PASS ALL NTE/PRAXIS EXAMS, EARN SUCCESSFUL EVALUATIONS FROM MENTOR TEACHERS AND PRINCIPALS…..LOOK AT THE REAL PROBLEM!

  2. tkhk3746

    February 15, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    Once again…yet another administration who is dancing around the real problem…IF parents, gov’t officials, and the “powers that be” have issues with the way their teachers are educating kids today….START CLAMPING DOWN ON THESE COLLEGES WHERE PROSPECTIVE TEACHERS ARE EARNING DEGREES!.. The hoops a teacher has to jump through successfully JUST to enter and education program the numerous times he/she is “mentored”, “critiqued”, “tested”, “evaluated”….IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF college professors, advisers, department heads, cooperating teachers, principals, superintendents…ALL who place these “teachers” in classrooms across this country! THAT IS WHERE YOU WILL FIND THE TRUE GAP”!!! I FIND IT INSIDIOUS THAT NO ADMINISTRATION CAN FIGURE THIS OUT. STOP BLAMING APPOINTED TEACHERS WHO PASS ALL NTE/PRAXIS EXAMS, EARN SUCCESSFUL EVALUATIONS FROM MENTOR TEACHERS AND PRINCIPALS…..LOOK AT THE REAL PROBLEM!

  3. bobblomeyer

    February 15, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    “CLAMPING DOWN” on colleges where new teachers are prepared (and where many certified teachers pursue continuing professional education) won’t do the trick either. In fact, that’s just a slightly different twist on the “Shaming and Blaming” that tkhk3746 blames administrators for pursuing in their closing sentence.

    It won’t change things for the better to point fingers in ANY DIRECTION!

    Duncan’s three “Guiding Principals” stop just short of being useful. The REAL ANSWER is absorbing the U.S. Department of Education’s “Cabinet-Level” position back into the Department of Health and Human Services where Federal educational stewardship lived and thrived until President Carter created the present Cabinet-Level USDOE.

    The provisions of the National Defense Education Act were implemented rather successfully without a Cabinet-Level USDOE.

    The original “entitlements” under Chapters I, II, III, IV and V of NDEA (1958-1966) were implemented rather successfully without a cabinet-level USDOE. So were the Educational Provisions of the Civil Right Amendment between 1964 and the 1970’s!

    Great progress was being toward improving educational policy and practice in America’s public schools until Jimmy Carter signed the Department of Education Organization Act (Public Law 96-88) in creating the current Cabinet-Level USDOE.

    Consider the historical facts: Since the current US Department of Education began operating May 16, 1980., educational reform and improvement in the US HAVE GONE STEADILY BACKWARDS!

    Since then, if the MILLIONS AND MILLIONS OF DOLLARS in Congressional educational appropriations had gone more directly to our States and school districts since then, AND NOT FOR FEDERALLY MISDIRECTED EDU-PORK TO AN EMERGING EDU-INDUSTRY, I expect our nation’s educational system would be in much better shape than they are today.

    Let’s take the control of the public educational system and the and take the educational funding allocated by the Congres AWAY FROM WASHINGTON BUREAUCRATS and begin to place it back where it belongs – IN OUR SEA’S AND SCHOOL DISTRICTS!

    THE US Department of Health and Human Services has an excellent record of making sure Congressional funding allocations get to where there supposed to go, and the US Department of Justice has a noble history of supervising the enforcement of educational provisions of the Civil Rights Act.

    LETS GO BACK TO WHAT THE HISTORICAL RECORD SHOWS ACTUALLY WORKED!

    As opposed to the cruel & expensive joke that’s been perpetuated by IES as the “Scientifically-Based” interpretation of “What Works.”

    http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/

    Ask your Congressmen and Senators what THAT ACTUALLY COST!?

    BobBl

  4. bobblomeyer

    February 15, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    “CLAMPING DOWN” on colleges where new teachers are prepared (and where many certified teachers pursue continuing professional education) won’t do the trick either. In fact, that’s just a slightly different twist on the “Shaming and Blaming” that tkhk3746 blames administrators for pursuing in their closing sentence.

    It won’t change things for the better to point fingers in ANY DIRECTION!

    Duncan’s three “Guiding Principals” stop just short of being useful. The REAL ANSWER is absorbing the U.S. Department of Education’s “Cabinet-Level” position back into the Department of Health and Human Services where Federal educational stewardship lived and thrived until President Carter created the present Cabinet-Level USDOE.

    The provisions of the National Defense Education Act were implemented rather successfully without a Cabinet-Level USDOE.

    The original “entitlements” under Chapters I, II, III, IV and V of NDEA (1958-1966) were implemented rather successfully without a cabinet-level USDOE. So were the Educational Provisions of the Civil Right Amendment between 1964 and the 1970’s!

    Great progress was being toward improving educational policy and practice in America’s public schools until Jimmy Carter signed the Department of Education Organization Act (Public Law 96-88) in creating the current Cabinet-Level USDOE.

    Consider the historical facts: Since the current US Department of Education began operating May 16, 1980., educational reform and improvement in the US HAVE GONE STEADILY BACKWARDS!

    Since then, if the MILLIONS AND MILLIONS OF DOLLARS in Congressional educational appropriations had gone more directly to our States and school districts since then, AND NOT FOR FEDERALLY MISDIRECTED EDU-PORK TO AN EMERGING EDU-INDUSTRY, I expect our nation’s educational system would be in much better shape than they are today.

    Let’s take the control of the public educational system and the and take the educational funding allocated by the Congres AWAY FROM WASHINGTON BUREAUCRATS and begin to place it back where it belongs – IN OUR SEA’S AND SCHOOL DISTRICTS!

    THE US Department of Health and Human Services has an excellent record of making sure Congressional funding allocations get to where there supposed to go, and the US Department of Justice has a noble history of supervising the enforcement of educational provisions of the Civil Rights Act.

    LETS GO BACK TO WHAT THE HISTORICAL RECORD SHOWS ACTUALLY WORKED!

    As opposed to the cruel & expensive joke that’s been perpetuated by IES as the “Scientifically-Based” interpretation of “What Works.”

    http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/

    Ask your Congressmen and Senators what THAT ACTUALLY COST!?

    BobBl

  5. menkedeb

    February 15, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    I believe that the “real problem” is not as simplistic as teacher preparation programs although it may contribute in some cases. If Americans were serious about improving education class size at all grade levels , K-12, would be 15 on less. But since most Americans do not want to pay for that kind of success we struggle on. I think much of the focus in education is on teachers because that is the only area the politicians and administrators can control. They cannot control the students, the parents, the school boards, or the state legislatures, so that pretty much leaves teachers. They believe that piling more and more responsibilities on teachers and adding more students without substantially changing the structure of the classroom will lead to greater student achievement.

  6. menkedeb

    February 15, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    I believe that the “real problem” is not as simplistic as teacher preparation programs although it may contribute in some cases. If Americans were serious about improving education class size at all grade levels , K-12, would be 15 on less. But since most Americans do not want to pay for that kind of success we struggle on. I think much of the focus in education is on teachers because that is the only area the politicians and administrators can control. They cannot control the students, the parents, the school boards, or the state legislatures, so that pretty much leaves teachers. They believe that piling more and more responsibilities on teachers and adding more students without substantially changing the structure of the classroom will lead to greater student achievement.

  7. brent800

    February 16, 2010 at 8:26 am

    Duncan has no credentials in education. He was a professional basketball player with a sociology degree. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arne_duncan He got his job in the Chicago public schools from Mayor Daley, The schools continued to decline on his watch. Obama needed another player for his Basketball Cabinet, so Arne goes to Washington. NCLB is causing students to learn to take exams and hate learning. As a classroom teacher in Chicago Public Schools I have seen the problems firsthand. Students want it easy and will not work to learn. Motivation is at an all time low. Parents are apathetic and neglect their children. But schools and particularly teachers are told to fix it. We need changes in parents and kids and some teachers need to be kicked to the curb. Oh, and while we are at it let’s replace Duncan and get a person who has taught some K-12 public education students. Arne can go play BB.

  8. brent800

    February 16, 2010 at 8:26 am

    Duncan has no credentials in education. He was a professional basketball player with a sociology degree. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arne_duncan He got his job in the Chicago public schools from Mayor Daley, The schools continued to decline on his watch. Obama needed another player for his Basketball Cabinet, so Arne goes to Washington. NCLB is causing students to learn to take exams and hate learning. As a classroom teacher in Chicago Public Schools I have seen the problems firsthand. Students want it easy and will not work to learn. Motivation is at an all time low. Parents are apathetic and neglect their children. But schools and particularly teachers are told to fix it. We need changes in parents and kids and some teachers need to be kicked to the curb. Oh, and while we are at it let’s replace Duncan and get a person who has taught some K-12 public education students. Arne can go play BB.

  9. tommy.tyler

    February 20, 2010 at 1:11 am

    Once again the blame game continues with a multitude of reasons for failing schools. It is the leaders, the unions, parents, teachers, the colleges, and we might as well add media and government into the blame game? It would be nice to hear solutions and building some consensus on effective strategies for school and society improvement. This sounds like the Democrat/Republican gridlock that is grinding our nation to the brink. I hope we wake up and recognize that an effective public school system will help to cure some of the national ills that we are currently facing and prepare our children for a rapidly changing world. We have the best university system in the world but some are better than others, our teachers are better prepared that ever, administrators are better, but face it we have a lot more complex problems and issues to solve than ever. We need to find solutions, join together as a nation that focus on our children and get the job of finding solutions going.

  10. tommy.tyler

    February 20, 2010 at 1:11 am

    Once again the blame game continues with a multitude of reasons for failing schools. It is the leaders, the unions, parents, teachers, the colleges, and we might as well add media and government into the blame game? It would be nice to hear solutions and building some consensus on effective strategies for school and society improvement. This sounds like the Democrat/Republican gridlock that is grinding our nation to the brink. I hope we wake up and recognize that an effective public school system will help to cure some of the national ills that we are currently facing and prepare our children for a rapidly changing world. We have the best university system in the world but some are better than others, our teachers are better prepared that ever, administrators are better, but face it we have a lot more complex problems and issues to solve than ever. We need to find solutions, join together as a nation that focus on our children and get the job of finding solutions going.