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Feds to test growth models under NCLB

Now that the city schools are on vacation, I can turn my attention to the world outside Baltimore...

There was big news in the world of No Child Left Behind this week. U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings invited states to submit proposals to hold schools accountable under NCLB based on progress rather than overall scores. The federal government is looking to try these "growth models" in up to 10 states, and Maryland is one of five that's getting preference. (Spellings, who once called herself president of the Nancy Grasmick fan club, said the state has been a leader in accountability. Her remarks from this week are here.)

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In response to the Spellings announcement, the nation's largest teachers union -- the National Education Association -- issued a statement saying the plan addresses "one of the major one-size-fits-all flaws of NCLB" and calling it a "long overdue step in the right direction."

"While we welcome the news, it comes more than six years after the law was enacted and less than a year before the Bush administration leaves office," the NEA statement says.

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The second-largest teachers union, the American Federation of Teachers, wasn't as kind. "This pilot program would not even begin to address the major problems with the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB)," the AFT's statement says. "The proposal does nothing to fix NCLB's adequate yearly progress formula, a poor measure of school quality. Nor does it change NCLB's wrong-headed approach -- providing punishment instead of help -- to schools and students that are struggling." The statement concludes that NCLB "is in need of a dramatic overhaul and cannot be patched up with Band-Aids and pilot programs."

Which side (if either) do you agree with?

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