On the first extended leg of her national tour promoting the No Child Left Behind Act, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings found support last week from a leading Democratic governor.
After visiting Roosevelt Elementary School in Olympia, Wash., with the secretary, Gov. Christine Gregoire lauded the 6-year-old law.
“No Child Left Behind has been a very, very instrumental tool for us to learn about those students who have been left behind,” Gov. Gregoire said at a press conference on Jan. 16 that was available for listening-in by reporters elsewhere.
Washington state schools are working to ensure that the “spirit and intent” of the law are fulfilled, added Ms. Gregoire, who helped lead a task force that set the National Governors Association’s policies on the law. The NGA is lobbying to give states greater leeway to decide how to intervene in struggling schools and assess English-language learners.
During the visit, Ms. Spellings announced that Washington state will receive a $1.9 million federal grant to aid the schools identified as in need of improvement under NCLB.
Secretary Spellings also toured schools in San Diego and in Salem, Ore., last week. The West Coast visits were part of her current attempt to drum up support for the NCLB law among state and local policymakers.
Gov. Gregoire mentioned one area of disagreement she had with Secretary Spellings.
Referring to current efforts to revise the NCLB law, the governor called for changes in the way schools are held accountable for students with disabilities and English-language learners.
Under federal rules, states may assess up to 30 percent of their special education students using alternative standards. But all other students with disabilities must take the regular state test. ELL students must take statewide exams if they’ve lived in the United States for at least one year.
Ms. Gregoire said students in the two groups should be tested “with a little different twist than a cookie-cutter approach.”
Ms. Spellings has defended the testing rules as important measures for holding schools accountable for all students’ achievement.
A version of this article appeared in the January 23, 2008 edition of Education Week