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Kenai Peninsula Online - Alaska Newspaper 03/31/04

Posted: Wednesday, March 31, 2004

PHOENIX (AP) Fourteen state education chiefs want the federal government to defer to state school accountability standards instead of the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

In a letter last week to U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige, the state education leaders said they remain committed to school accountability but are concerned that a majority of schools will be found as needing improvement under the federal law.

''Many of these schools will be given that designation despite having shown steady and significant improvement for all groups of students,'' the leaders wrote.

The letter was signed by state school chiefs from Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hamp-shire, Pennsylvania, Utah and Washington state.

No Child Left Behind is the centerpiece of President Bush's education policy.

It requires all students, regardless of background, to perform well on state reading and math tests. Schools that fail to improve face a series of increasingly stiffer consequences.

While the federal government has granted flexibility in meeting the requirements, No Child Left Behind makes it easy for schools to fail, said Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne.

A school that fails to meet one of the requirements would be labeled as underperforming under the federal law, Horne said.

''I think that can undermine accountability,'' Horne said, noting Arizona's accountability system judges a school by its overall performance.

As long as states meet certain conditions such as having students proficient in reading and math by the 2013-2014 school year they should be allowed to use other accountability systems, the chiefs wrote.

The states would then have to demonstrate that they have made progress in closing the gap between high- and low-achieving students, the chiefs wrote.

The letter asked Paige to help seek legislation in Congress to grant states relief.

School chiefs want alternative accountability systems

PHOENIX (AP) Fourteen state education chiefs want the federal government to defer to state school accountability standards instead of the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

In a letter last week to U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige, the state education leaders said they remain committed to school accountability but are concerned that a majority of schools will be found as needing improvement under the federal law.

''Many of these schools will be given that designation despite having shown steady and significant improvement for all groups of students,'' the leaders wrote.

The letter was signed by state school chiefs from Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hamp-shire, Pennsylvania, Utah and Washington state.

No Child Left Behind is the centerpiece of President Bush's education policy.

It requires all students, regardless of background, to perform well on state reading and math tests. Schools that fail to improve face a series of increasingly stiffer consequences.

While the federal government has granted flexibility in meeting the requirements, No Child Left Behind makes it easy for schools to fail, said Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne.

A school that fails to meet one of the requirements would be labeled as underperforming under the federal law, Horne said.

''I think that can undermine accountability,'' Horne said, noting Arizona's accountability system judges a school by its overall performance.

As long as states meet certain conditions such as having students proficient in reading and math by the 2013-2014 school year they should be allowed to use other accountability systems, the chiefs wrote.

The states would then have to demonstrate that they have made progress in closing the gap between high- and low-achieving students, the chiefs wrote.

The letter asked Paige to help seek legislation in Congress to grant states relief.



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