U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings Highlights No Child Left Behind at Massachusetts State House, Visits Edward Brooke Charter School
U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings and in-coming Massachusetts Secretary of Education Paul Reville today hosted an education policy roundtable discussion on No Child Left Behind at the Massachusetts State House with Massachusetts Acting Commissioner of Education Jeff Nellhaus, Massachusetts policymakers, educators, teachers, parents and business leaders. Secretary Spellings applauded Massachusetts’ efforts to raise content standards of assessments and discussed opportunities for improvement and innovation under No Child Left Behind.
Secretary Spellings also today visited classrooms at Edward Brooke Charter School in Roslindale, Mass., and delivered remarks to students, teachers and school officials at a school assembly. While at the school, she also announced the availability of free books through the 2008 Summer Reading Initiative. The Initiative marks the first stage of a national distribution of over 850,000 free, new Random House children’s books to schools, libraries and literacy organizations serving low-income youth across the country. Wendy Bhagat, senior vice president, First Book and Heidi Kilgras, editorial director, Random House Children’s Books joined Secretary Spellings for the announcement.
“Massachusetts is a champion of accountability and has some of the nation’s highest standards. I commend Massachusetts for already using a cohort longitudinal graduation rate in line with that of the National Governors’ Association. I am also pleased that when compared with the Nation’s Report Card, Massachusetts has the highest fourth grade standards in the nation in both reading and math,” said Secretary Spellings. “Six years after No Child Left Behind changed the education game in this nation, we can be proud of where it has brought us. The law’s core principles now guide our conversation on education, and now is the time to build on that foundation.”
At the policy roundtable, Secretary Spellings commended Massachusetts’ rigorous curriculum, requiring four years of English and math, and three years of science and history. Secretary Spellings also applauded the state’s strong assessment system for students with disabilities. In addition, Secretary Spellings discussed other opportunities for improvement that could help build on Massachusetts’ progress such as continuing to work to bridge achievement gaps and reducing n-size to prevent students from slipping through the cracks.
Secretary Spellings also emphasized the need to equip every child with a highly qualified education and prepare them for the 21st century global economy. She urged that as a nation we must find ways to address consensus areas such as employing growth models to allow schools to measure individual student performance over time; using a more nuanced accountability system to distinguish between schools missing performance goals across the board and those who come within range; taking more aggressive steps to address and improve high school graduation rates; ensuring that more eligible students are taking advantage of free tutoring; and doing a better job of recruiting and preparing good teachers and getting them in to schools where they are needed most.
In April, Secretary Spellings announced proposed new regulations to strengthen and clarify No Child Left Behind. The proposed regulations focus on improved accountability and transparency, uniform and disaggregated graduation rates and improved parental notification for Supplemental Education Services and public school choice. For further information on how the regulations will strengthen No Child Left Behind, including a link to the Federal Register, please visit http://www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/reg/proposal/index.html.
In addition, Secretary Spellings noted that the Department’s Institute of Education Sciences What Works Clearinghouse today released The Practice Guide on Turning Around Low-Performing Schools. The guide includes specific recommendations for use by educators who aim to quickly and dramatically improve student achievement in low-performing schools and indicates the quality of the evidence that supports the recommendations. Highlights of the guide’s recommendations include making a commitment to dramatic changes from the status quo, ensuring a sharp focus on improving instruction it maintained, making visible improvements early in the turn-around process and building a staff that is committed to the school’s improvement goals and qualified to carry out school improvement. To review the practice guide in its entirety, please visit http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/pdf/Turnaround_pg_04181.pdf.
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