Chairman Miller offers NCLB insights
US Rep. George Miller, one of the chief architects of No Child Left Behind, made one of his NCLB listening stops in Tampa today to hear what local educators think as the Congress reauthorizes the accountability law. He announced that the House draft bill should be released online later today, and revealed some of the details.
Perhaps the key change is that the Congress will move toward a growth model for assessing whether schools and students are meeting academic goals. A dozen states, including Florida, already have won approval from the administration to move this direction. "It reflects more what is happening on the ground," Miller, a California Democrat, said.
"Comparing last year's fourth graders to this year's fourth graders doesn't tell us very much about what is going on in the schools," he said.
The bill would also adopt a more uniform high school graduation rate as one success measure, as many governors have proposed.
Schools will remain accountable for English-language learners and special education students, he continued, but the Congress wants to give schools more flexibility in how to assess them. The bill will give schools five years instead of three to before requiring English-language learners to take the main exam, for example. He's also looking to allow the students to complete portfolios. "We need to be able to determine what a child knows and what he needs to know," Miller said. "They're entitled to an assessment that accurately reflect where they are."
Asked about the "sanctions" associated with the law, Miller pledged that vouchers are "not going to happen." Moreover, he continued, the Congress will let schools offer tutoring services to students at failing schools before, instead of after, offering them the choice of attending another school. Calling the tutoring program "a scam" with its current lack of standards, he added that he wants to give states two years to come up with more stringent guidelines for selecting the companies that offer the services.
He expected the bill also to let school districts to use up to 10 percent of their NCLB choice money to offer extended day programs. He figured this would be the most popular choice for parents.
Miller said he hoped to initiate a national conversation about the reauthorization with the release of the draft. He said he would begin holding hearings after Labor Day.
To read Miller's July speech on NCLB reform, click here.