Forum on Educational Accountability
for further information:
EDUCATION, CIVIL RIGHTS, DISABILITY,
RELIGIOUS GROUPS PROMOTE "REDEFINING ACCOUNTABILITY"
TO REPLACE "NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND" FOCUS ON TESTS AND
SANCTIONS; CALL FOR IMPROVING STUDENT LEARNING BY BUILDING CAPACITY
Sara Robertson (202) 230-8978
Robert Schaeffer (239) 395-6773
Dr. Monty Neill (617) 335-2115
Leaders of national education,
civil rights, religious, disability and children's organizations
today unveiled proposals to replace the test-based sanctions
of the federal "No Child Left Behind" (NCLB) law with
means to hold states and localities accountable for making systemic
changes that improve student achievement as well as improvements
in learning as measured by multiple assessment tools.
The Forum on Educational Accountability
(FEA) report, Redefining Accountability: Improving Student Learning
by Building Capacity, includes nearly two dozen "fundamental
reforms" in professional development, family involvement
and accountability. The FEA recommendations are based on the
principles of the Joint Organizational Statement on the NCLB
Act, now signed by 106 groups.
"There is a growing national
consensus - as demonstrated by public opinion polls - that NCLB's
punitive approach undermines its goal of high quality education
for all children," explained Reggie Felton, who works in
the Advocacy and Issues Management Section at the National School
Boards Association. "Instead of being judged against arbitrary
Adequate Yearly Progress standardized exam targets, districts
and states should be held accountable for making changes that
really improve student achievement."
The FEA's proposals would relieve districts of the requirement
to spend federal grant money on transferring students to different
schools and on private tutoring firms. Instead the funds would
be used to intensify staff professional training for educators
working in low-performing schools, strengthen parent and community
involvement in school improvement, and provide literacy skills
for families that need them.
"Building the capacity
of schools to effectively educate all children and the capacity
of families to support their children's learning should be the
primary federal focus," added Jan Resseger, of the United
Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries. "This requires
fully funding the law so that it covers all eligible children.
Anything less is immoral."
"To make these reforms
possible, NCLB's system of tests and sanctions must be replaced,"
said Monty Neill, Executive Director of the National Center for
Fair & Open Testing (FairTest). "States and districts
should intervene only when a school fails to implement fundamental
changes or when it does not establish a positive trend in learning
outcomes, identified using multiple assessment measures, based
on rational expectations, in a reasonable time frame."
Joel Packer, Director of Education
Policy and Practice for the National Education Association, continued,
"The proposals in Redefining Accountability are consistent
with recommendations made recently by ten U.S. Senators in a
letter to Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
Chairman Edward Kennedy. A broad consensus on the changes that
are needed in NCLB is clearly emerging."
"It is imperative that
NCLB fairly and appropriately assess students with disabilities,"
said Daniel Blair, senior director of Policy and Advocacy Services
at the Council for Exceptional Children. "We hope that significant
changes that will allow that to happen will be made in the reauthorization
of NCLB. The FEA's recommendations present a good starting point
for us to improve the assessment of students with disabilities
so that we have information about how each child is progressing
individually, as well as information about the child's achievement
in relation to the standardized scores of children without disabilities."
On Wednesday afternoon, February
21, FEA leaders will brief staff of the U.S. Senate Health, Education,
Labor and Pensions Committee on the Redefining Accountability
report recommendations. This session will run from 1:30 to 3:30
pm in room 430 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building and is open
to the news media.
This spring, FEA will release
a report on assessment alternatives, to complement the recommendations
in Redefining Accountability.
- - 3 0 - -
- the new report,
Redefining Accountability is online.
- an Executive Summary and
the Joint Organizational Statement on NCLB with a list of signers
are also posted at http://www.edaccountability.org