How Do You Measure Success?

Among educators’ concerns regarding the No Child Left Behind Act is the law’s over-reliance of standardized assessments as the sole or primary measure of student, school, or educator success. The solution, many say, is using “multiple measures”—but what that encompasses is yet to be determined.
What do you believe should be measured to gain a full and accurate evaluation of your school and students’ success? Also, what do you believe is a fair and accurate measure of teacher and principal success?
Help NAESP define what principals mean when they request assessment by “multiple measures.”

NCLB and Students with Disabilities

The National Council on Disability recently issued a report gauging NCLB’s impact on the academic progress of students with disabilities. Among the findings of The No Child Left Behind Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: A Progress Report are that students with disabilities are doing better in terms of placement in various academic categories, “positive change is greater at the fourth grade and dissipates by the eighth grade,” and “since 2004 there has been a palpable and positive change in the overall attitude of educators toward educating students with disabilities.” Check out the report and let us know how it compares with your experiences.

NAESP’s Position on “Highly Qualified” Principals

Over the last few weeks, there have been a number of articles published on the issue of “highly qualified” or “highly effective” principals, including a December 12 article (“Policy Focus Turning to Principal Quality”) in Education Week. NAESP opposes the establishment of a federal definition of a “highly qualified” or “highly effective” principal (or any similar definition). Listing criteria in federal law would, we believe, lead to judging principal quality fully or in large part on the basis of test scores. The best way for the federal government to help create and maintain excellent principals is to require states and districts to provide principals with high-quality ongoing professional development, beginning with mentoring in the early years and lasting throughout a principal’s career, and to provide funds to help states in that work.

NAESP supports the authorization of funds for an independently designed and implemented program of voluntary national certification for principals. We believe the model of the board certification program for teachers established by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is an excellent one, and would like for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards to create and implement it.

NAESP’s ESEA reauthorization recommendations detail what the Association believes should be changed to make ESEA more effective and less punitive on the nation’s schools, including ensuring that schools are well-staffed by well-qualified professionals.

States Allowed to Use Growth Model for NCLB

On Friday, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings announced that all eligible states are welcome to adopt the “growth model” for assessing student progress under NCLB. Educators have complained that the current method of measuring progress unfairly lumps the scores of students together, without taking into account gains by individual students. The growth model allows states to track the progress of individual students over a period of time, and requires states to have a system to track students’ scores and to protect their privacy.

North Carolina, Tennessee, Delaware, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Alaska, and Arizona are using the growth model, but the Department of Education will have to approve additional states that want to use it.

Take a Stand on Behalf of Your Students

Jonathan Kozol, the award-winning author of The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America, is once again making quite the statement. He has been on a hunger strike of sorts since early July. The 71-year-old has lost about 29 pounds, bringing the 5-foot-9 inch education activist to a mere 132 pounds—all for the sake of America’s schoolchildren. Kozol is protesting the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which is up for renewal this year. According to the Boston Globe, Kozol said he will continue his partial fast until Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy (a sponsor of the original bill) agrees to overhaul what Kozol called a punitive law that relegates urban schoolchildren to an inferior, stripped-down education and demoralizes teachers, who he believes are forced to teach to the test.

NAESP’s reauthorization recommendations detail what the Association believes should be changed to make ESEA more effective and less punitive on the nation’s schools. Learn how you can make your own statement by visiting NAESP’s Federal Legislative Action Center. Lawmakers need to know how ESEA affects principals and their schools, so what better way is there other than to hear from principals themselves?

NCLB Changes Curriculum and Instruction

The Center for Education Policy released a report this week that analyzes the changes in curriculum and instruction time since the enactment of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). “Choices, Changes, and Challenges: Curriculum and Instruction in the NCLB Era” finds that since the enactment of NCLB, 62 percent of school districts increased the amount of time spent in elementary schools on subjects that are tested for accountability, while 44 percent of school districts cut time on science, social studies, art and music, physical education, lunch, or recess.

Read the full report to learn about the other findings and recommendations, which include staggering requirements to include tests in other academic subjects.

Is NCLB Working?

According to a new report from the Center on Education Policy, NCLB is working. The report says that students have made significant gains in math and reading since the passage of NCLB; and achievement gaps between white and minority students have closed somewhat since 2002. But while students have improved basic skills, the report concedes that only 13 states have enough data to compare rates of improvement before and after the law was passed.

While the CEP report shows student achievement gains since NCLB was implemented, it seems the law still lacks public support. Two out of three Americans want Congress to rewrite or abolish NCLB, according to a Scripps Howard News Service and Ohio University survey. Survey respondents who have children in public schools are more likely to want the law altered or abolished than are people who don't currently have children in school.

NAESP’s Response to the NCLB Commission Report

The Commission on No Child Left Behind, a bi-partisan group led by former Georgia Governor Roy E. Barnes, released a report this week with 75 recommendations for Congress as it prepares to reauthorize ESEA. The report, which some are calling an ambitious plan, provides recommendations that include the creation of a Highly Effective Principal category (which NAESP is opposed to); sanctions for teachers with poorly performing students; and the creation of new national standards and tests.

Click here to read NAESP’s response to the Commission report.

NAESP’s Statement on the President’s FY2008 Budget Proposal

With the upcoming ESEA reauthorization fresh on our minds, the $56 billion proposed in President Bush’s Fiscal Year 2008 budget proposal for federal education programs is highly disappointing. Though the President has proposed an increase in Title I funding by $1.2 billion, for example, he has proposed cutting many other federal education programs, including the School Leadership Program. Click here to read NAESP’s response to the President’s budget proposal.

Principals Continue to Speak on NCLB

Vincent Ferrandino, NAESP’s executive director, and Sally McConnell, NAESP’s associate executive director for Government Relations, along with NASSP counterparts, met with Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings last week to discuss the upcoming reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. You can read more about this visit on NAESP’s Federal Legislative Action Center.

Principals continue to share their thoughts about NCLB on the Principals’ Office. Pat Hould says that his school has been mostly impacted by the notion of sub group reporting and the thought of testing special education students at their grade level versus their ability level.  “While I realize that this is somewhat a state by state issue, I struggle with the notion of testing students with, for example, a 5th grade reading level with an 8th grade test,” says Hould.  “I fully accept the thought of being held accountable and having my students held accountable for what they know and should be able to do.  However, I object to the thought of my school not reaching AYP because a member of a particular sub group, that has an identified learning disability, drives down our scores. These wonderful students, whose gifts are many and contributions to our school great, are placed in special education because of their ability.  My wish list for change to NCLB would include: 1). Multiple assessment measures and 2). A model that compares children to their own abilities and their individual academic achievement growth.”

Hould provides some wonderful insights. Tell us what you think. How has NCLB impacted your school? What would you say to members of Congress about the reauthorization?

Principals Speak Out on No Child Left Behind, Part II

We continue today with reflections from principals about how NCLB is impacting their schools. Principal Olaf Jorgenson moved from public to private school leadership in large part because he disagreed with NCLB, especially as it was administered in Arizona. “My current school does not accept a penny of federal funding, or any federal grants, even though we are on a shoestring each year and are able to operate only based on our tuition (which covers about 70% of our costs), our ability to attract groups to use our facilities during vacations and summers for revenue, and our (my) ability to fundraise,” said Jorgenson.  “But I see my fellow principals in my former district really struggling with NCLB as it impacts children and teachers.”  Jorgenson said that if he could speak to members of Congress about NCLB he would tell them: “If we must rely on test scores so heavily, then I'm a huge proponent of gauging a teacher's success (a school's success) based on how much a child grows in an academic year.  If the teacher gets 100% of kids to progress at least one academic year, that's impressive.”

Yesterday, Principal Jan Borelli shared how NCLB has impacted her school. Borelli says that if she could speak to members of Congress about NCLB, she would tell them: “I think if anyone really looks at what makes a great class, it’s all about what the teacher can bring out of his or her students. I think if anyone really looks at what makes a great school, it’s all about what the principal can bring out of his or her teachers. I would like to see more support for the training and continuing development of principals.”

Jorgenson and Borelli offer some profound thoughts on NCLB. Tell us what you think. How has NCLB impacted your school? What would you say to members of Congress about NCLB?

Principals Speak Out on No Child Left Behind

With the reauthorization looming, we asked some principals how NCLB has impacted their schools. Principal Dean M. Warrenfeltz commented that he was present in Washington, D.C. for the ceremonial signing of the NCLB legislation and very excited to see the bi-partisanship backing of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the promised support for public schools.  “However, the punitive nature of NCLB implementation and the lack of funding have not lived up to the promise," said Warrenfeltz. "The current legislation’s tone does not promote teaching as a profession or recognize the efforts put forth by educators. (You can read the rest of Warrenfeltz’s comment under the excerpt “All Eyes on Congress for NCLB reauth.”)  When Principal Jan Borelli took the helm of her elementary school three years ago, the school had been on the state’s low performing list for five continuous years and was in danger of being reorganized or closed. “The pressure was unrelenting,” said Borelli. “After my first year there, we came off the low performing list by the hair of our chin. This year we performed very respectably in the top 10% of the 68 elementary schools in our district in over half of the tested grades. NCLB has really brought accountability (or at least a ‘feel’ of it) to our school since we had not provided evidence of progress until the last couple of years. It’s very demoralizing to work under such pressure and negativity; however, we decided to focus on the positive aspects (i.e., using data to tell us what we need to teach). It required (and enabled) us to professionalize our practice so that we no longer taught to the middle (couldn’t afford to) but actually began differentiating our curriculum so all children would make progress. By using best practices and research-driven practices, we began to find the way to teach so that our 99% free/reduced lunch and 68% ELL population could learn to read and develop language competencies more quickly. I have not liked being under the gun, but I have loved the constant data that flows my way and the ability to evaluate our practice as we go along instead of a stamp of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ at the end of the year.”

Join us tomorrow for more reflections on the impact of NCLB. We hope that you will also take the time to share your thoughts on the Principals' Office about how NCLB has impacted your school.

All Eyes on Congress for NCLB reauth

While President Bush met with congressional leaders this week about the upcoming reauthorization, there was some rumbling in education circles about an article written by Michael Petrilli, a former U.S. Department of Education official who helped promote NCLB. Petrilli wrote "I've gradually and reluctantly come to the conclusion that NCLB as enacted is fundamentally flawed and probably beyond repair. The positive part about NCLB, he explained, is that it has changed the conversation in education. “But let's face it: It doesn't help the dedicated principal who is pulling her hair out because of the law's nonsensical provisions," he says. Read the rest of Petrilli’s article at http://www.edexcellence.net/FOUNDATION/gadfly/index.cfm#3177.

The suspense to the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has been building for several months and many eyes are on the new Congress to see what action they will take. But what’s this in Monday’s Christian Science Monitor in which reporter Amanda Paulson writes, “While the conversation is heated, the likelihood that NLCB will be reauthorized this year may be small.” Paulson cites an informal poll of Washington insiders that was conducted by the Fordham Foundation. In the poll, the majority of respondents believe the reauthorization will be delayed until after the 2008 presidential election.

Kentucky Principal and NAESP’s Past President Rosemarie Young writes about her experiences working on the ESEA task force:

Greetings, colleagues!

Let me share the work involved with the ESEA task force and the thinking behind our recommendations. The ESEA Task Force was composed of principals from across our nation and our goal was not to “fix” NCLB but to develop recommendations for the federal government’s role in education that would support states’ efforts in raising the achievement of every student. The task force went back to the original intent of ESEA to provide equitable educational opportunities for all children in the United States.

Much dissatisfaction has been voiced over the high stakes accountability system of NCLB. The federal government provides a very small percentage of funds to states but requires strict adherence to their testing requirements. Many states had established strong accountability systems and had to completely revamp their assessment systems to meet the federal mandates. Basically, we are calling for a return to state assessment systems with the role of the federal government to provide funding to ensure educational equity for our children. In addition, a system that utilizes a growth model assessment approach with multiple measures of achievement is recommended. Other components include recommendations to help schools succeed, special education, English Language Learners, well-qualified professionals, and supplementing the K-12 educational system.

Now we must initiate the tremendous work of getting the word out and working with legislators to enact the needed changes. We must have your help to make this happen! So, what do you think? Will these recommendations get the job done and how do we mobilize the tremendous principal leadership out there to ensure the needed changes happen? Are you willing to get involved?

NAESP’s Recommendations for the Reauthorization of ESEA

Today NAESP released its recommendations for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). NAESP hopes that the recommendations will encourage Congress to amend ESEA to make it more consistent, flexible, and fair for schools to effectively address the academic needs of all students. Read the full recommendations at www.naesp.org/client_files/ESEA-8-06.pdf.

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