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Statement by Secretary Spellings on NCLB Recommendations by the Forum on Educational Accountability


Secretary Spellings today issued the following statement on recommendations by the Forum on Educational Accountability:

As we work with Congress to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act, we must keep our eye on the ball: ensuring that all students achieve grade level proficiency in reading and math by 2014. Unfortunately, the report released today by the Forum on Educational Accountability (FEA) shifts the focus from results to excuses.

The report would turn back the clock to a time when accountability was not a way of life in our schools. Specifically, Principle I lets schools off the hook for improving student performance until unspecified “inequities in access” were eliminated. A school dissatisfied with its current level of state funding, for example, could hold student achievement hostage to its demands.

The report walks away from the goal of full proficiency by 2014, substituting a fuzzy and shifting target that sets the bar low. It would put students with disabilities and English-language learners back on a separate, slower academic track. And it would de-emphasize assessments in favor of vague concepts such as “improvements in the learning climate.”

We agree with some elements of the report, including its call for flexibilities such as the use of growth models and better ways to target interventions on lagging schools. We also share its rejection of national curriculum standards. But in the end, it must be judged on whether it can help us achieve results.

The data shows that No Child Left Behind is working for our children. We must pick up the pace by strengthening accountability, not watering it down.


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