Published Online: March 14, 2006
Published in Print: March 15, 2006, as NCLB Panel Plans to Study Teachers, Student Progress, But Not Funding Levels

NCLB Panel Plans to Study Teachers, Student Progress, But Not Funding Levels

A private commission formed to explore potential changes to the No Child Left Behind Act plans to focus on such topics as adequate yearly progress and teacher qualifications, sidestepping more politically charged issues such as the level of federal funding for the law.

Reviewing the NCLB Act

The Commission on No Child Left Behind is a private, bipartisan panel formed to study the federal school accountability law and recommend to Congress changes for the law’s 2007 reauthorization. Its members are:

Roy E. Barnes, former governor of Georgia, commission co-chairman
Tommy G.Thompson, former U.S. secretary of health and human services and former governor of Wisconsin, commission co-chairman
Craig Barrett, board chairman, Intel Corp.
J. Michael Ortiz, president, California State Polytechnic University-Pomona Christopher Edley Jr, dean, University of California, Berkeley, law school
Eugene Garcia, dean, Arizona State University school of education
Judith E. Heumann, adviser on disability and development, World Bank Group
Thomas Y. Hobart Jr., former president, New York State United Teachers
Jaymie Reeber Kosa, middle school teacher, West Windsor-Plainsboro school district, Princeton, N.J.
Andrea Messina, vice chairwoman, Charlotte County, Fla., school board
James Pughsley, former superintendent, Charlotte-Mecklenburg County, N.C., school district
Edward B. Rust Jr., chairman and CEO, State Farm Insurance Cos.
John Theodore Sanders, executive chairman, Cardean Learning Group, and co-chairman of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future
Jennifer Smith director, principalleadership initiative, District of Columbia public schools
Ed Sontag, exsenior adviser and acting deputy director, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities

“We could spend two years or two lifetimes discussing funding, but when we took the final vote around this table, it wouldn’t affect the funding because that is a political decision that is going to be driven by Congress,” former Georgia Gov. Roy E. Barnes, a Democrat, said after the first, closed-door meeting of the Commission on No Child Left Behind, held March 6.

Mr. Barnes and Tommy G. Thompson, a Republican former secretary of health and human services and governor of Wisconsin, are co-chairmen of the panel, which is being administered by the Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan Washington think tank.

The co-chairmen agreed that the 4-year-old law needs a thorough review, but they said they supported its broadening of the federal government’s authority over education policy. The panel hopes to guide Congress in the reauthorization of the law, scheduled for 2007.

Throughout this year, the panel will consider what Mr. Barnes and Mr. Thompson called the larger policy issues in the law, particularly how states should measure student progress and teacher quality. The commission will seek to determine which aspects of the measure have been successful and identify areas that could revamped.

“We think we have the framework, and the framework is No Child Left Behind,” Mr. Thompson said. “The purpose of this commission is to examine what worked … and speak to changes that can make [the law] more efficient and more effective.”

The law—an overhaul of the four-decade-old Elementary and Secondary Education Act—aims to hold schools accountable for raising the academic proficiency of all their students. It includes wide-ranging provisions on such matters as teacher qualifications.

Hearings Coming Up

Mr. Barnes said he and Mr. Thompson had visited lawmakers on Capitol Hill and had each spoken with Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. Mr. Barnes said policymakers were receptive to the panel’s mission and bipartisan nature.

“This commission has every conceivable viewpoint,” he said.

The co-chairmen were joined by several of the other 13 commission members, who include representatives from business and higher education, local school superintendents, and a classroom teacher.

The commission plans to hold its first hearing late this month or in early April in Los Angeles, with a focus on teacher quality. Details of that hearing are still to be worked out.

After other hearings around the country, the panel plans to hold a final, comprehensive hearing in Washington in September. It intends to give Congress its recommendations next January.

Vol. 25, Issue 27, Page 26

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