Thursday, February 10, 2005

The Spellings Report: Expanding NCLB To High Schools

Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings gave an interview to The Washington Times yesterday. The Secretary has been charged with spearheading the Bush Administration's drive to expand the No Child Left Behind Act to some 15 million public high school students.

Generally speaking, we like Secretary Spellings, although we are concerned about some of her priorities. Ms. Spellings said in the interview:
"We know that 75 [percent] to 80 percent of the fastest-growing jobs require at least two years of college, so we've got to ratchet up the level of accomplishment, and then, we need to broaden the number of people who are achieving that level of accomplishment" in ninth through 12th grade,"
Spellings indicated to The Times that the Administration's proposed budget includes:

  • $1.5 billion to improve high school literacy and math achievement, with required testing in both 10th and 11th grades
  • $200 million to provide researched-based instruction for all high school students who read below grade-level
  • $64 million so that high schools can make "a richer curriculum more widely available"

Secretary Spellings said that the primary reasons why students are not successful in high school is because they cannot keep up with their studies or they become bored. She said:

"We know that kids at that level don't have a lot of patience," so remedial reading materials used in elementary grades are impractical, the secretary said. "So we need to figure out how to ratchet up reading skills in a very rapid way, so that they can consume the content at the 10th- or 11th-grade level, and do it proficiently and rapidly so that they can keep up."
We have no doubt that the Administration will be successful in its efforts to mandate increased performance and accountability from America's high schools. What we are uncertain of is whether or not the promised funding will be allocated in order to achieve these increased expectations. Or will we see yet another inadequately-funded federal mandate?