from the Director's Desk

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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Back on the Horse: NCLB Update

It’s been awhile. Making the commitment to blog is daunting, but Henry Johnson’s visit to the State Board of Education meeting today has finally given me the impetus to do so.

Dr. Johnson has left his official position at the US Department of Education, but Chairman Lee invited him to drop by and give the SBE some information on the direction NCLB seemed to be taking in its reauthorization process. Here’s what Dr. Johnson told the Board:

  • Both Democrats and Republicans are committed to reauthorizing NCLB. They may have different concerns and focus, but they are committed to its reauthorization.
  • Reauthorization should bring greater emphasis on teacher competency. The President has highlighted AP and IB teachers, and there appears to be support for rewarding teachers and principals when they:
    • Close the achievement gap
    • Agree to teach in low-performing, restructuring schools
  • Dr. Johnson predicts an increased focus on:
    • School success
    • More options for parents
    • More funding
  • He believes that the reauthorized NCLB will have the following priorities:
    • High school reform
    • Closing the achievement gap
    • Empowering parents, i.e.choice
    • Rural schools
    • Increased flexibility (including the EETT formula grants)
  • Reading First will be moving into the middle and high schools and will be called the Striving Readers Program. Reading First in the elementary grades will be continued.
  • Based on the success of Reading First, the US ED is proposing a similar program for Math entitled Math Now. This will be for elementary and middle schools and will bring forth scientifically-based methodology in the teaching of math in much the same manner as Reading First was launched.
  • Dr. Johnson predicts that reauthorization will bring about discussions regarding expanding private school options. Specifically the US ED is proposing Promise Scholarships. These scholarships will be targeted at students transferring to private schools or another district from schools in restructure. In addition to the proposed $2500 scholarship, federal funding will also follow the student.
  • Finally, he predicts that states receiving federal NCLB money will be required to submit NAEP data.

As Dr. Johnson so understatedly put it, some of these recommendations will create discussion. At least EETT appears to be part of that discussion, contentious or otherwise!