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U.S. schools chief touts No Child Left Behind

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The U.S. secretary of education visited an Indianapolis charter school and the city's children's museum Friday as part of a Midwest bus tour to promote a federal accountability law.

Margaret Spellings said the No Child Left Behind law, which is now up for renewal, holds schools accountable while empowering parents and students.

A congressional proposal would allow schools to get credit for tests in subjects other than math and reading. Supporters of the plan say that would make No Child Left Behind more flexible.

Spellings says the law can be improved, but cautions against changes that would create loopholes.

"The law is working," she said. "More kids are performing better since this law passed. We need to stay the course."

The 2002 law requires annual testing in grades three through eight in math and reading. Schools that miss yearly goals face consequences, such as having to pay for tutoring or replace principals.

At the Andrew J. Brown Academy in Indianapolis, Spellings called on Congress to tweak the five-year-old education accountability legislation and renew it.

Some Indiana school officials believe some schools should not be held to the same standards, particularly those with high numbers of children who speak English as their second language or special needs students.

"On special education we need to, you know, advance the state of the art and how we intervene and how we assess students, but to make the demand for accountability go away will actually cause that work not to happen," said Spellings.

At the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, Spellings toured exhibits and said science will help prepare students to be innovators of tomorrow.

Spellings' three-day bus tour also included stops in Cleveland and Cincinnati. She last visited Indiana in 2005, when she attended the state's annual high school summit sponsored by the Indiana Department of Education.


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