Monday, October 01, 2007

The Spellings Report: Pushing NCLB

The nation's report card has just come out and Queen of All Testing U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings is positively giddy over the news:
"Student achievement is on the rise," said Secretary Spellings. "No Child Left Behind is working. It's doable, reasonable and necessary. Any efforts to weaken accountability would fly in the face of rising achievement."

Spellings noted that 48 states and the District of Columbia either improved academically or held steady in all categories.

"To those who would suggest that No Child Left Behind is not working, our nation's 4th- and 8th-graders and their teachers just proved the naysayers wrong," Spellings added. "Math scores for 4th- and 8th-graders and the reading scores for 4th-graders are at historic highs and the biggest gains were made by African American and Hispanic students."

More than 700,000 students nationwide participated in the 2007 Nation's Report Card on reading and math, and they represented a diverse student population, including one-third minority students and a growing proportion of English language learners.

"At a time when our student population is becoming more diverse, educators and students are rising to the challenge and excelling in the classroom," Spellings said. "I'm pleased with the progress but not satisfied. As we inch closer to our goal of having every child on grade level in reading and math by 2014, we need to continue to pick up the pace. I am confident that our nation's schools and teachers can get the job done."

Spellings emphasized that today's results prove once again that moving away from accountability would send us in the wrong direction.

"What President Bush has proposed in his reauthorization plan for No Child Left Behind is the right direction," said Spellings. "It provides parents more information and options to make the right educational decisions for their children; it gives states and schools more effective ways to target resources and interventions where they're needed most; and it gives educators more incentives to teach in our most challenging educational environments.

"Bottom line: No Child Left Behind is empowering parents and students by infusing accountability into education—and the Nation's Report Card shows that it is working on behalf of our nation's children," said Spellings.
Naturally enough, these results will provide useful ammunition for those who are battling for the reauthorization of NCLB.

Did you notice that last paragraph? As with most of her utterances, the Secretary expounds the need for public educators to be held accountable for the success of the public education system.Far from it.

As professionals, we do need to be "held accountable" for our classroom performance and its effectiveness.

What we've always had a problem with is that when Spellings and her ilk mention accountability, it's nearly always the classroom teachers and site administrators who are held wholly accountable for students' academic progress; she rarely, if ever, mentions the need for parents and students to also be responsible for at least making an effort to achieve success

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