Finding Room for Improvement

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Proposals to fix perceived flaws in the No Child Left Behind Act’s accountability provisions are mounting.

ASSESSMENT: Use the National Assessment of Educational Progress to benchmark student performance in reading and mathematics, while letting states craft standards and tests in other subjects.

VALUE-ADDED MEASURES: Judge schools using "value added" measures that look at the growth of individual students over time, particularly for those with disabilities or with limited proficiency in English.

CONSEQUENCES: Require schools identified for improvement to offer supplemental services the first year and transfers to other schools the second year, rather than the reverse.

TESTING: Revamp state testing cycles to identify schools in need of improvement several months before the school year begins or, alternatively, delay penalties for one year or base penalties on multiyear averages.

SCHOOL CHOICE: Pay more attention to expanding the supply of schools to which students can transfer.

DISABILITIES: Permit states to develop alternate assessments for students with moderate disabilities that are based on the same academic standards as those for other students, but that lead up to grade-level performance.

ENGLISH-LANGUAGE LEARNERS: Keep students with limited English proficiency in that subgroup for accountability purposes even after they are designated as "proficient" in the language. Let local authorities decide when individual students are ready to be tested in English, and do not require English-language learners to take tests that have not been normed for such children.

SOURCE: Education Week

Vol. 24, Issue 04, Page 31

Published in Print: September 22, 2004, as Finding Room for Improvement
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