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ESEA June 2003

Welcome to the NEA's NCLB/ESEA Weekly Alert. June 2003

Look for NCLB/ESEA Alert to return after the Representative Assembly.


Great Public Schools For Every Child
Table of Contents
  1. Legislative Updates:
  2. Studies
  3. Studies and Reports
  4. Department of Education News
  5. Quote of the Week
News

  1. Legislative Updates:
    The U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce approved a pair of bills designed to improve teacher training and provide increased student loan forgiveness for highly qualified math, science and special education teachers. The bills would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), due for reauthorization later this year. H.R. 2211, the Ready to Teach Act, emphasizes scientifically based research and technology and outlines an accountability system for programs that prepare teachers. Both are mandated by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001. The Teacher Recruitment and Retention Act (H.R. 438) would provide up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness (up from the current $5000) for secondary school math and science teachers in Title 1 schools with a poverty level of more than 30 percent. Both bills now move on for a full house vote. Get more info at http://www.thompson.com/libraries/education/index.html.

    NEA has asked Congress to protect Head Start, the early childhood learning program that improves the chances of students doing well once they enter school. Head Start, which has served more than 18.5 million low-income children and their families since its inception in 1965, would be dramatically weakened by a proposal now before Congress. NEA believes the measure undermines Head Start's teacher quality and accountability standards, put comprehensive services and funding at risk, discriminates against Head Start employees, reduces the program's emphasis on health care, diminishes parental participation and tempts states to divert Head Start funding to other projects. In today's atmosphere of increased accountability for student performance, "Young children who do not get a good Head Start will indeed find themselves left behind," says NEA President Reg Weaver.

    Members of the House Education and Workforce Committee will also investigate whether a deliberate act of sabotage was committed against the American Board for Certification of Teacher Education, a program supported by tax dollars. The ABCTE charges David Imig, president and chief executive officer of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, with stealing and distributing questions from a test it developed. Imig admitted he requested a copy of the test, allowed colleagues to review them and made one photocopy to prepare for a debate with ABCTE President Kathleen Madigan on the test's merits. But Imig will not say who supplied him with a copy of the test. ABCTE, established with a $5 million grant from the Department of Education, says its goal is to raise the bar for teachers and break down barriers to entering the teaching profession. Prospective teachers who pass online exams could be hired to teach in public schools without any formal teacher training. NEA does not support ABCTE certification.

  2. Studies
    NEA Analyzes Accountability Plans: Although President Bush says all states are now in compliance with NCLB, that's not necessarily the case, says NEA's lobbyist Joel Packer. The White House announcement was overly optimistic. In reality, aspects of many state plans are still under negotiation. "All states have approved accountability plans but it's totally unclear if they will do everything in their plans," says Packer. "In addition, these approved plans only deal with accountability and assessments - not teacher quality or Paraprofessional quality issues." Even though all plans have been approved, states can still propose amendments. NEA Student Achievement has completed an analysis of the 15 NCLB state accountability plans that were made public by May 29. "We encourage you to review your state's plan and our analysis to determine if it reflects what you see happening in your state," reads a joint memo from NEA President Reg Weaver and Executive Director John Wilson. "You may want to compare your state's plan with other states and decide if your plan needs changes. Some states received approval from USED for certain types of flexibility that other states may not have been aware they could also request." Access NEA's critiques at (use this link if you're on the NEA network) or at (if you're accessing Connect via the Internet.) They're listed under heading "Association Resources."

  3. Studies and Reports
    Reading 2002, the National Assessments of Educational Progress (NAEP) report that gives a national overview on the reading performance of 4th, 8th, and 12th graders, showed improvements in the scores of fourth graders but a significant drop in the performance of high school seniors. Between 1998 and 2002, when the last two tests were administered, 12th-graders showed declines at every level, from basic to advanced readers. NAEP reports provides educators, policymakers and the public with valuable information on student performance. Some educators say the declining high school scores reflect the fact that most of the nation's reform efforts have been focused on elementary schools. Additional NAEP reports will be released in later this year - Writing 2002 by July 1 and the 2003 assessment in reading and mathematics later this fall.

    The number of human errors found in scoring for standardized test has risen dramatically, from one recorded error in 1976 to 14 in 1999, says a study conducted by the National Board for Educational Testing and Public Policy in Boston. In view of these errors, the study questions whether these exams should be the only measure used for high-stakes decisions like teacher certification and student grades and promotions. This study also predicts that the number of human errors will increase as states try to satisfy the accountability requirements of No Child Left Behind.

  4. Department of Education News
    The Department of Education website, set up to receive suggestions for a new national plan that determines how we use technology in American schools, can be found at www.nationaledtechplan.org. Submit your suggestions by the end of July. The plan, mandated by NCLB, is expected to incorporate recent trends like online learning, virtual schools and data-driven decision making.

  5. Quote of the Week
    "We must ensure that educators know the culture of their students in order to fully engage them in class work, that teachers have relevant textbooks and that Hispanic and other minority students have minority role models in their teachers and school administrators. It's a long, hard battle, and we will remain on the front lines." NEA President Reg Weaver, expressing concern that foreign born and native born Latino students are dropping out of high school at rates higher than any other ethnic group.

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