Saturday, August 29, 2009
Is NCLB About to Be Replaced?
As reported in the AJC education blog, "Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the No Child Left Behind Act failed to produce the radical changes necessary to improve the nation’s lowest-performing schools. He intends to change that with an aggressive $3.5 billion school improvement aid plan that demands striking changes."
Duncan said the federal government was determined to raise the “bottom on the bottom,” the 5,000 lowest performing schools in the nation, half of which were urban, 30 percent were rural and 20 percent were suburban.
“In those schools, tinkering around the edges is not sufficient,” Duncan said. “Those children are being poorly served in chronically underachieving schools and marginal incremental change is not the answer.”
The AJC posting continues, "Under his plan, systems must discard scalpels and take chainsaws to failing schools. Systems can close them, restaff them and reopen them under new leadership or as charters. They can shutter the schools and transfer students elsewhere. Or they can make deep, “transformative” changes, including replacing the leadership, adopting comprehensive reforms including performance pay for teachers and extending learning time."
Duncan says, “If we are to put an end to stubborn cycles of poverty and social failure, and put our country on track for long-term economic prosperity, we must address the needs of children who have long been ignored and marginalized in chronically low-achieving schools,” said Duncan, who made the announcement with U.S. Sen. Harry Reid at Harley Harmon Elementary School in Las Vegas. “States and school districts have an opportunity to put unprecedented resources toward reforms that would increase graduation rates, reduce dropout rates and improve teacher quality for all students, and particularly for children who most need good teaching in order to catch up.”
“The large investment in school improvement funds made possible by the Recovery Act presents a historic opportunity to attack education's most intractable challenge -- turning around or closing down chronically low-achieving schools,” Duncan said. “Our goal is to turn around the 5,000 lowest-performing schools over the next five years, as part of our overall strategy for dramatically reducing the drop-out rate, improving high school graduation rates and increasing the number of students who graduate prepared for success in college and the workplace.”
The secretary would require states to identify three tiers of schools:
Tier I - The lowest-achieving five percent of Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring in a state, or the five lowest-performing Title I schools, whichever number is greater.
Tier II – Equally low-achieving secondary schools that are eligible for, but do not receive, Title I funds. The secretary proposes targeting some of these extremely low-achieving high schools and their feeder middle schools. There are close to 2,000 high schools in this country in which graduation is at best a 50/50 proposition. U.S. Department of Education data indicates that fewer than half of these schools currently receive Title I Part A funds. If the provisions proposed become final, school districts would not be required to include Tier II schools in proposals. However, including Tier II schools would enhance a school district's likelihood for funding because states would be required to give priority to districts that commit to serve both Tier I and Tier II schools.
Tier III – The remaining Title I schools in improvement, corrective action or restructuring that are not Tier I schools in the state. "
To read about Duncan's entire plan, check it out at the US DOE website.