Testing, Testing

July 17, 2007 1 min read

A lot of comments across the Web—like here, and here, and here—about a Congressional Quarterly report that Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon doesn’t like the Democratic draft of an NCLB bill.

McKeon is especially concerned about the language that would allow districts to use so-called multiple measures in determining AYP, according to one of his aides. The aide pointed to a July 13 letter from the Education Trust and civil rights groups calling for “extreme caution” in allowing for scores from new tests to be used in calculating AYP. Any such alternate tests would “dilute Title I’s clear focus on the literacy and mathematics skills that students need” and could confuse parents because of conflicting information.

The interesting subtext here is the politics. Several press reports have pointed out Republican divisions over NCLB. But here we’re seeing the Democratic divide.

The groups that signed the July 13 letter are part of the Democratic coalition (e.g. the Center for American Progress, the National Council of La Raza, and the Citizens’ Commission on Civil Rights). So are the groups that comprise the Forum on Educational Accountability, which is working hardest to introduce new tests into the AYP structure. The Forum includes the NEA, AFT, and a host of other groups traditionally aligned with Democrats.

FairTest—which is spearheading the coalition—goes so far as to say that tests under NCLB should “first help teachers to teach better, and secondly contribute, when they are technically adequate, to accountability information.” That proposal will never fly to believers that statewide testing should be the central element of any accountability system.

What does this mean for efforts to get an NCLB bill ready for the House to consider?

Aaron Albright, the press secretary for Democrats on the Education and Labor Committee, said Miller is “working hard to introduce a bill as soon as possible, and we are working in a bipartisan way.”

McKeon tells CQ that he believes the Education and Labor Committee won’t vote on an NCLB bill before Congress adjourns for August recess.

A version of this news article first appeared in the NCLB: Act II blog.