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Testing Expert Questions Multiple Measures

Reactions to the Miller speech continue to trickle in, including a story in yesterday's Ed Daily (subscription required) that reiterates Miller's intent to prevent multiple measures from turning into an "escape hatch" (as if there aren't already enough of those) and tensions with ranking member Buck McKeon, who has threatened to block the bill if necessary.

There's also mention of a letter from testing expert Bill Sanders that calls multiple measures into question: “Most of the measures usually advocated under the banner of ‘multiple measures’ have so little reliability that any attempt to use them in summative assessment is certain to provide results so untrustworthy that essentially no distinction among schools can be made."

Will multiple measures turn into a big "do-or-die issue," or will it be worked out in a way that gives the NEA credit for changing NCLB without gutting the already-loose NCLB accountability framework? I don't exactly know. But my guess is that something will get worked out that allows the reauthorization to move forward even if it doesn't really help the functionality of the law.

Encouraging News For Charter Schools From New Orleans

According to this article at EdWeek ( New Orleans Charters Fare Well in Testing), the first wave of tests results look good for some schools. Charter school students did relatively better than students in the state-run Recovery School District that Paul Vallas recently took over. In response, Vallas says he's implementing longer class days and better PD for teachers. There could be as many as 40 charters in New Orleans within the very near future, according to the article.

Unions & Teachers & School Improvement

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Over at Schools for Tomorrow, Ed Rooney sees some unfortunate similarities between the teachers union in Mexico and the ones here. The union there is tremendously powerful, according to the article, spending on education is at 27 percent of the federal budget, but student achievement is low. Pictured is the head of the teachers union in Mexico, apparently known simply as "la meastra."

A Replacement For Secretary Spellings

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Forget who's going to be the next President. The real question is who's going to be the next Secretary of Education. And some folks are already putting together their lists. "Who needs another policy wonk or former governor?," asks Mike Antonucci over at The Intelligencer (Winnie Cooper for Secretary of Education). "How about someone who can combine fashion with fractions? And provides homework help on her web site?"

Big Stories Of The Day

A Study Finds Some States Lagging on Graduation Rates NYT
Dozens of states accept any improvement in high school graduation rates as adequate progress, and several set a goal of graduating fewer than 60 percent of their students, according to a study released yesterday by the Education Trust in Washington.

Doubts Cast on Math, Science Teaching Lures EdWeek
Those who have studied financial incentives say evidence is scant that they are attracting substantial numbers of college students and career-changers to math and science teaching, despite years of investments in those programs. PLUS: Teachers Tell Researchers They Like Their Jobs.

Gates Foundation's Education Chief Controls Billions NPR
With more than $3 billion in grant money to give away, [incoming education chief] Phillips arguably has one of the most powerful K-12 jobs in the country.

Textbook Watchdog Norma Gabler Dies NPR
Norma Gabler, who, along with her husband Mel, exerted huge influence over the U.S. textbook industry as a watchdog for material they considered anti-family, has died.

Putting Freshmen In The Spotlight, Putting NCLB Under

Right on schedule, CQ Today has a piece about how the Dems are focused on helping the freshmen keep their seats (Democrats Put Freshmen in Spotlight). Doing so makes obvious sense for the Dems, but not so much for NCLB supporters given the newbies' understandably skeptical views of NCLB. It's not entirely wishful thinking to say (as some do) that the freshmen ran against Iraq and -- to a much lesser degree -- NCLB.

The Price Of A Democratic Majority: Making "Mush" Out Of NCLB

Not everyone's holding their tongues and waiting to see what the Miller reauthorization bill looks like. This commentary from Scripps News Service is an example: Diluting the No Child law. "As attractive as these indicators might sound, they would dilute the purpose of the law to where ultimately the standards become the usual educational mush."

Perhaps there's some way to thread the needle and come up with a bill that avoids creating mush and gives Congressional Democrats enough of the fig leaf they think they need to get re-elected. After all, many would argue that the growth model idea, which could have created just such a confusing morass, has seemed to have been just such a success. And others would observe that, with all its confidence intervals and subgroup minima and safe harbors and all the rest (attendance and graduation indicators), the current NCLB isn't as clear and simple as it seems on the outside.

But I'm not particularly hopeful, and remain somewhat dismayed and -- perhaps I'm alone -- surprised at this turn of events. After five years of defending NCLB, ducking and weaving all the way, Miller seems to be telling us that multiple measures are to be the price of a Democratic-controlled Congress.

"Big" Stories Of The Day

Acceleration Under Review Ed Week
As more high school students enroll in programs that award college credit, policymakers are asking questions about quality.

UC's online-only charter high school closes after 1 year San Diego Union-Tribune
Heather Brooks, 17, an incoming senior at Mar Vista High School, and Erik Chavez, 17, who just graduated, practiced handling cargo on the Navy tanker Henry J. Kaiser as part of the students' paid summer internship.

Wis. teen told police he 'freaked out' AP
A boy on trial in the shooting death of his principal told investigators that he "just freaked out" and pulled the trigger three times, but that he didn't mean to kill the man.

A school musical in their own words USA Today
Grovelin' for grades each day...Buildin' our GPA...Tryin' to stuff more stuff in our resumé.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.