Effectively Implementing ESSA Campaign
Now that the “Every Student Succeeds Act” (ESSA) has replaced NCLB, Citizens for Effective Schools is advocating for States and localities to adopt the most effective ways to implement ESSA. State and local attention that’s been misfocused for 15 years under NCLB on raising standardized test scores to avoid sanctions needs to be refocused on helping schools improve.
Attention needs to focus on promoting the changes in stakeholders’ expectations, beliefs and practices that are necessary to implement the common elements of successful school turnarounds.
CES’s new campaign to effectively implement ESSA includes the following key features:
“Open Letter to Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Council: We Need a Chancellor and DME to Support DCPS and Make Mid-Course Corrections” (June 27, 2018).
Calls for Mayor to select a new Chancellor who would shift the culture of D.C. Public Schools from “top-down, test score and graduation rate-driven” to “collaborative, teaching-and-learning centered, community-engaged, equitable, honest, transparent and supportive of school-based educators [.]” Includes specific strategic and policy changes that need to be made. Signed by multiple education and civil rights organizations and more than 100 education advocates and concerned citizens citywide.
“D.C. Pioneers New Direction for American School Reform” Article, Huffington Post, (October 3, 2017).
Describes how D.C. Public Schools’ school reform strategy, under new Chancellor Antwan Wilson, does not focus on NCLB’s test-driven accountability Instead, it emphasizes the district’s helping schools improve by promoting distributed leadership, support for principals and teachers, social and emotional learning, equitable resource allocation, active parent engagement and other key supportive and collaborative policies.
“Comments of Citizens for Effective Schools on OSSE’s January 30th Draft State Plan on Accountability and Proposed Submission Date” (March 3, 2017).
Discusses, in part: three functions that school accountability systems can serve; the role of school climate surveys in ESSA accountability; the U.S. Department of Education’s compendium of “valid and reliable” school climate surveys; and the need for the District of Columbia Office of the State Superintendent of Education to establish a stakeholder task force to review the compendium and recommend one of its climate surveys as the “school quality” indicator for rating D.C. schools for accountability under ESSA.
Testimony on Nomination of Antwan Wilson for Chancellor of D.C. Public Schools, Council of the District of Columbia, Committee on Education, Gary M. Ratner (December 8, 2016).
Addresses, in part: the existence of a huge student racial achievement gap in District of Columbia Public Schools in 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress; what works to turn around low-achieving schools –- common elements of successful school turnarounds; what actions new Chancellor should take, including replacing district’s top-down control with distributed leadership, adoption of SCAI school climate survey for needs assessment and school improvement, entering 5-year contracts with, and supporting turnaround principals, completing overdue contract with Washington Teachers’ Union, and using ESSA’s “comprehensive support” and “schoolwide” programs for school improvement, including stakeholder collaboration, comprehensive plan, needs assessment and implementation.
“How D.C. Could Become National Model For Turning Around Low-achieving Schools Under ESSA,” Article, Huffington Post, (December 1, 2016).
Proposes D.C. shift from Michelle Rhee-Kaya Henderson test, sanctions and school closing strategy, which, in 2015, left c. 55% of DCPS’s black students “Below Basic” on NAEP -- reading and math -- and huge achievement gap, c. 79% white: 14% black students “Proficient.” Instead, D.C., and other districts nationwide, should focus on using ESSA’s “comprehensive improvement” and “schoolwide” programs to do what research and experience shows works to turn around low-achieving schools.
“Testimony on ‘A Better Way to Rate Schools?,’ Hearing of District of Columbia State Board of Education” Gary M. Ratner (November 16, 2016).
Explains why state education agencies, in their ESSA school accountability rating systems, should give: much more weight to “growth” than “proficiency”; academic indicators together only the minimum weight allowed by ESSA (about 55% of the total weighting system;) and about 45% of total weight to “school quality” indicators.
“How D.C. Could Become National Model for Improving Low-achieving Schools under ESSA” Article (August 26, 2016).
More detailed discussion subject of above December 1, 2016 Huffington Post article. Includes: D.C. context; components ESSA’s two turnaround programs; Congress’s apparent rationale for its new ESSA, school improvement approach; and concrete recommendations for what D.C., and other districts, should do to effectively implement turnarounds.
“Citizens for Effective Schools Comments on DOE’s Proposed ESSA Regulations on ‘Accountability and State Plans’,” Gary M. Ratner (August 1, 2016).
Provides arguments why the following aspects of the U.S. Department of Education’s then-proposed ESSA accountability regulations would be illegal: 1) mandating States to impose sanctions on schools failing to get at least 95% student participation in State tests; 2) mandating States to use at least three categories to differentiate among schools’ performance and a single summative rating for each school; and 3) preventing States from unconditionally giving as much weight to “school climate or student success” indicator(s) as the statutory language allowed.
“States’ Crucial Choice Under New Federal Education Law: Selecting the Best Survey to Measure and Improve School Quality” Article, Huffington Post (May 25, 2016).
“In three major respects, the School Climate Assessment Instrument (SCAI), from California State University, Los Angeles, is much more powerful and provides more useful information than other school climate surveys, especially for school improvement. Accordingly, the States should adopt SCAI as at least one of their indicators for both accountability and school improvement purposes under ESSA.”
States and localities should concentrate on innovatingly implementing three aspects of ESSA to maximize the improvement of low-achieving schools: (1) adopting broad accountability (and non-accountability) school climate indicators for needs assessment, planning, and public reporting; (2) preparing experienced principals to become turnaround leaders; and (3) holistically implementing key improvement strategies.
Restructuring NCLB Campaign
In the pre-ESSA period, CES continued to engage directly in its own writing, speaking and lobbying efforts to reframe the American school reform debate and restructure NCLB and portions of HEA. In addition, since early 2004, CES did much of its work through a coalition of national organizations, known as the Forum on Educational Accountability (FEA). FEA was a working group from among the more than 153 national education, civil rights, religious, disability, parent, civic and labor organizations, representing more than 50 million Americans, that have signed the Joint Organizational Statement on NCLB. The Joint Statement includes principles for restructuring NCLB, as well as portions of HEA, so as to accomplish NCLB's goals.
CES played a major role in developing and publicly promoting FEA's positions, including serving as Chair, FEA Committee on School Improvement/Capacity-building and as a principal drafter of many of FEA's advocacy documents. (CES was a principal drafter of all the FEA documents below identified with an *.)
The following featured works were important components of CES' campaign to restructure NCLB/HEA. They include: CES' path-breaking 2003 "Open Letter to President Bush and Congress," explaining how to restructure NCLB; the 2004 Joint Organizational Statement on NCLB; the Executive Director’s 2007 seminal law review article on "Why NCLB Needs to Be Restructured;" and FEA's 2015 detailed legislative recommendations to Congress for overhauling NCLB.
“Congressional Education Reauthorization: Urgent Need for School Leadership Academy Program,” Article, Huffington Post (March 17, 2015).
“’Turning a school around is no work for novices. It takes a skilled, visionary and proactive principal to pull apart the strands of demoralization, low expectations, poor teaching and unengaged students and rebuild a coherent, learning-centered school.’ … Training principals to lead turnarounds of our lowest-achieving schools is America’s paramount education training need. It’s essential that Congress provide a grant program solely for this purpose. Franken-Bennet points the way.”
“Answering Chairman Alexander’s Two Critical Questions for Congressional Education Reauthorization,” Article, Huffington Post (February 23, 2015).
Congress needs to focus low-achieving schools/districts on implementing the common elements of successful school turnarounds. Includes schools analyzing their needs, developing collaborative plans to implement the elements and publicly reporting indicators of what steps they’ve taken to implement them. Appropriate governmental roles: schools and districts -- decide how to implement the common elements and meet other special needs; States -- identify indicators, provide technical assistance and supplemental funding, where needed and intervene where failure to implement elements; feds -- provide funding, research on what works, technical assistance and monitor State/local compliance with ESEA reauthorization’s requirements.
“FEA Proposed Revisions to ESEA” (January 15, 2015).
FEA’s proposed, detailed, legislative language submitted to Congress to replace NCLB’s sections on school improvement, accountability, and assessments.*
“Principled, Sound Middle Way to Education Reauthorization,” Article, Huffington Post (November 4, 2013).
Although state/local responsibility for public schools is a significant American value, they’re five other similarly significant values that Congress and the Executive also need to weigh in determining federal school reform policy. Illustrates how fairly applying all six values would lead to sound, principled policy results on key aspects of standards, accountability and school improvement – some supporting Democrats’ positions, some supporting Republicans’, and others, an alternative to both.
“After NCLB? Emerging Strategy Shift,” Article, Huffington Post (September 9, 2013).
While widely overlooked, a shift in the federal school reform debate is emerging - away from NCLB’s tests and sanctions strategy. Describes emerging policy changes in five critical areas - leadership, instructional improvement, standards/curriculum level, school climate and parent and community involvement and support - especially as embodied in the Senate education committee’s 2013 ESEA reauthorization bill.
- “Overhaul ‘No Child Left Behind’ now,”
Article, The Hill’s Congress Blog
(March 14, 2013)
To avoid continuing to leave millions of children behind, Congress needs to replace the central strategy of NCLB and the Obama administration’s waivers – high-stakes testing – with helping schools improve. Describes what’s wrong with the high-stakes testing strategy and what Congress needs to do instead: what works.
- “Foreword,” (PDF) by Gary M.
Ratner, to The
Crucial Voice of the People, Past and Present: A Second Edition of
Education’s Missing Ingredient by Victoria M. Young,
Rowman & Littlefield (October 2012)
the United States perpetuate its demonstrably failed and harmful test
and sanctions-driven ‘school reform’ strategy, unknown to the leading
‘education’ nations? Or will we instead shift our strategy to
helping our low-achieving schools improve, and our students learn, by
doing what works? …. [I]n mid-2012, a dramatic grassroots movement
against high-stakes testing has begun in the U.S., spearheaded by
school boards in Texas and Florida. This citizens’ movement
should be seen as a significant step toward the bedrock reforms that
The Crucial Voice is advocating.”
- “What’s Wrong with Romney’s Massive Federal
School Voucher Proposal and What Should Congress Do Instead?,”
Article, Huffington Post
(October 12, 2012)
Romney’s $25 billion/yr. federal school voucher proposal as a radical,
unjustified, unworkable and anti-democratic intrusion on states’
responsibility for public education. Instead, identifies six
major policies Congress should adopt to help public schools improve.
- “What’s Wrong with NCLB and What Should
Replace It?,” (PDF) Talk to Save Our Schools (SOS) National
Convention Workshop, Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, D.C. (August 4, 2012)
key elements of NCLB and false assumptions on which it’s based, harms
it causes, how reform strategy should instead be built on common
elements and practices of successful school turnarounds, and what
specific federal policies should be enacted in ESEA reauthorization to
- “Key Changes Required in ESEA/NCLB,” (PDF)
(August 3, 2012) - Part of above SOS Workshop
8 important policies that Congress should enact to redirect NCLB/ESEA
from tests and sanctions to helping schools improve. These
include establishing a school leadership academy to train experienced
principals to lead turnarounds of low-achieving schools and requiring
lowest-achieving schools specially funded to engage in turnarounds to
implement the common elements and practices of successful turnarounds.
- “A New Paradigm for American School Reform:
from ‘High-Stakes Testing’ to ‘Helping Schools Improve’,” (PDF)
Talk to Institute for Educational Leadership Washington Policy Seminar
2012, Renaissance Hotel, D.C. (April 23, 2012)
four questions: 1) what are the purposes of American education and
Title I of ESEA, in particular? 2) What’s wrong with high-stakes
testing as the strategy for accomplishing those purposes? 3) What
strategy should replace high-stakes testing? and 4) What must happen to
reach common ground on replacing “high-stakes testing” with “helping
- “School Turnarounds and School Improvement
for the ESEA Reauthorization: Focusing on What Works,” (PDF)
Talk to Forum on Educational Accountability Capitol Hill Briefing,
Rayburn House Office Building, D.C. (March 14, 2012)
key research on what works to help schools improve and students learn;
the intended meaning of “school turnaround”; the common elements and
practices of successful turnarounds; a sound process for conducting
them; what policies should Congress adopt to promote successful
turnarounds; and how far have the Senate and House, respectively, gone
to do so.
- “What’s Necessary for Congress to ‘Get It
Right’ on School Turnarounds?,” Article, Huffington Post
(February 8, 2012)
and critiques Senate and House education committee ESEA reauthorization
bills on important school turnaround issues, including: training for
turnaround leaders, implementation of common elements, staff
replacement, performance measures and percent of schools subject to
Waivers Should Not Be Unconditional: New Accountability Strategy
Needed," Article in Huffington Post
(August 25, 2011)
Secretary Duncan to condition waivers of NCLB’s unrealistic and harmful
“tests and sanctions” accountability system on states instead working,
within funding available, toward implementing a realistic and effective
strategy: adopting common elements actually used by schools which
successfully turn around.
the Evidence? Serious Inadequacy of ‘Race To The Top’ School Turnaround
Models,"Article in Huffington Post (May
Explains how the four RTTT turnaround models are seriously defective
and inadequate, especially with respect to: automatic removal
principals and teachers; converting to charters; and closing
to Overhaul NCLB to Help Schools Improve: Implement Common Elements of
Success," Article in Huffington Post
(March 23, 2011)
Explains why paradigm shift is necessary in ESEA debate on federal role
in education: from “tests and sanctions” to helping schools
improve. Require federally-funded “turnaround schools” to
implement the common elements of successful school turnarounds and
other Title I-funded schools to publicly report implementation
status. Provide federal funding to help states support local
implementation. Identifies key common elements and sub-elements.
Wrong with NCLB? False Premises and Harmful Effects," Article
in Huffington Post (March 7, 2011)
Describes how NCLB is built on false premises, including that schools
already have the knowledge, skills and other resources needed to
dramatically improve student learning - they just need to be pressured
to try harder. Identifies harms caused by NCLB, including
teaching to the test and narrowing the curriculum.
Key Areas for Overhauling the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, "
(PDF) Talk to National Council of Teachers of English
Government Relations Subcommittee, Capitol Hill (January 27, 2011)
Analyzes NCLB’s treatment of assessments, accountability, school
improvement/capacity building and school turnarounds and explains FEA’s
policy recommendations in these areas. Addresses recommendations of CES
and FairTest re: school inspectorates/school quality reviews; the
“Teacher and Principal Improvement Act” bill - by Senator Jack Reed (R.
Is.), S. 3242 (2010); and common elements of successful school
turnarounds. And describes School Leadership Academy bill - the “Lead
Act” - sponsored by Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.) and Cong. Donald Payne
(N.J.), S.3469/H.R.5495 (2010), and initiated and advocated by CES.
- “Proposed Outline for ‘States Helping
Schools Improve Act’ - Discussion Draft,” (PDF) Gary Ratner
and Monty Neill (September 24, 2010)
to establish federal pilot program to fund selected States to provide
professional school quality review (SQR) teams to evaluate, and make
recommendations to improve, low-performing schools. Includes
discussion of: proposed statutory findings, purposes, SQR process and
frequency, coordination with state technical and resource assistance,
monitoring, evaluation, reporting and projected cost.
- “States Helping Schools Improve Act: One
Page Summary,” (PDF) Gary Ratner and Monty Neill (September
One page summary of preceding “Proposed Outline for States Helping
Schools Improve Act - Discussion Draft”.
School and Family Capacity to Support Student Success" (PDF),
Talk to Forum on Educational Accountability Symposium, Capitol Hill
(June 29, 2010)
Summarizes key CES advocacy and research related to how to improve
school and family capabilities to support student learning, including:
the newly filed "Lead Act" bill, S. 3469 and H.R. 5485, to establish a
School Leadership Academy to train experienced educators as school
turnaround leaders; the common elements of successful school
turnarounds; and how states could use school inspectorates to enhance
Research – and Experience – Based Turnaround Process" (PDF),
FEA Proposal for New Federal Approach to School Turnarounds (June 17,
Relying heavily on "Common Elements of Successful School Turnarounds"
paper below, describes five key strategy areas schools identified for
turnaround should be required to address. Also recommends processes for
initial school evaluation, turnaround plan preparation, approval,
implementation, support, review and public reporting.
- "Lead Act" Bill,
S. 3469 and H.R. 5495, 111th Cong., 2d Session (PDF),
introduced by U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (Colo.) and Sherrod Brown
(Oh.) and Congressmen Donald Payne (N.J.) and Russ Carnahan (Mo.),
respectively (June 9, 2010)
"A Bill To build capacity
and provide support at the leadership level for successful school
turnaround efforts" by creating a "School Leadership Academy" to
develop and teach a state-of-the-art framework for training experienced
principals to lead, and other school officials to mentor, successful
turnarounds of low-performing public schools, with Academy being
brought to scale by affiliated regional "school leadership centers of
excellence." Bill evolved from CES' proposed "National
Education Leadership Academy Act" draft bill (PDF) cited in In the News and described in
"National Education Leadership Academy Briefing Paper" below.
Education Leadership Academy Briefing Paper" (PDF), Revised
Draft, by Gary Ratner (October 9, 2009) - (Excerpts)
Describes: the reasons why a national academy is needed now to create
and teach a state-of-the-art curriculum and pedagogy for training
experienced educators in the best strategies and approaches for leading
turnarounds of our chronically low-performing schools, especially the
approximately 5,000 schools in "restructuring" under NCLB; how the
Academy should be brought to scale through regional campuses; why it
should be federally established and chiefly federally funded; how the
Academy would differ from existing school leadership training
Elements of Successful School Turnarounds: Research and Experience"
by Gary Ratner, with Monty Neill, prepared as background paper for
House Education & Labor Committee Hearing on "Research and Best
Practices on Successful School Turnaround," May 19, 2010 (May 14, 2010)
As a result of having separately analyzed a diverse range of research
and experience on school improvement, concludes that successful school
turnarounds have typically engaged in common strategies. Divides these
strategies into the following five categories: 1) "Leadership:
principal, teachers and other stakeholders;" 2) "Instructional
improvement;" 3) "Curriculum: challenging, rich, culturally relevant
and aligned;" 4) "Climate: high expectations, respect, support and
safety;" and 5) "Parent and community involvement and support." Briefly
describes the specific strategies in each category and cites research
Additions, and Other Revisions, to Requirements for 'Transformation
Model,' as contained in Notice of Proposed Requirements, School
Improvement Grants, 74 F.R. 43109-10 (Aug. 26, 2009), and to Related
Turnaround Requirement of 'Blueprint'" (PDF), by Gary Ratner
and Monty Neill (April 28, 2010)
Recommends additional or revised policies, along with proposed
regulatory language, to strengthen the Administration's "Transformation
Model" for school turnarounds, as well as certain proposed revisions to
School Improvement Grants generally and to all "turnaround models" in
Recommendations to House Education and Labor Committee re Policies for
ESEA Reauthorization, including Comments on Administration's
'Blueprint'", (March 26, 2010)*
Provides comprehensive, far-reaching and integrated policy
recommendations for overhauling ESEA in the areas of assessment,
accountability, school improvement/capacity-building and opportunity to
learn, and the reasons therefor. Concurrently, appreciates certain
elements of the Administration's "Blueprint," including its call for
essentially ending AYP for most of the nation's schools, ending the
requirement that 20% of Title I funds be spent for tutoring and
transfers, and including the concept of "school quality reviews" to
help schools improve.
Required: A Paradigm Shift in School Reform, from 'Tests and Sanctions'
to 'Helping Schools Improve" (PDF),
by Gary Ratner, Talk to Society for the Psychological Study of Social
Issues, Rayburn House Office Building, Capitol Hill (March 24, 2010)
Calls for replacing establishment's widespread treatment of "school
reform" as equivalent to implementing "tests and accountability" by
instead recognizing that "school reform" means "taking the actions
necessary to help schools improve." Relies heavily on 1997 article by
Norman Augustine, then Chairman of Business Roundtable's Education Task
Force, effectively acknowledging that "standards, assessments and
accountability" were only 3 of 9 necessary components of successful
school reform, and explicitly stating that "[l]eaving any one of [the
other 6 components] out of a reform agenda, [let alone all six] will
sharply reduce the chances of success."
to Restructure the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and Working
with Coalitions" (PDF),
Talk to Learning Disabilities Association of America Annual Conference:
Session on Advocacy in Action, Baltimore, Maryland (February 19, 2010)
Includes discussion of how NCLB is structured, the contrast between
FEA’s approach to changing NCLB and the Obama/Duncan approach and the
differences in their premises, and the ESEA advocacy challenges facing
'Helping Schools Improve' with 'Accountability' under ESEA: The Key
Role For Qualitative, As Well As Quantitative, Evaluations And The Use
of Inspectorates" - Working Paper II (PDF), by Gary Ratner
and Monty Neill (December 15, 2009)
Explores, in some depth, how having states establish a corps of
accomplished and specially trained education leaders (similar to the
English school inspectorate of 1993-2005) to provide independent,
on-site, periodic reviews, evaluations and recommendations for helping
Title I-funded schools improve could significantly advance that goal.
Emphasizes viability of such an outside review system depends on
concurrently enhancing state and local capacity to provide technical
assistance and supplementary resources, so that it would be possible to
carry out reviewers' recommendations.
Summary, Working Paper II: 'Integrating "Helping Schools Improve" with
"Accountability,"'" (PDF), by Gary Ratner and Monty Neill
(December 15, 2009)
A two page summary of the above sixteen page Working Paper II.
N.B.In addition, Ratner and Neill prepared two other papers answering a
series of questions by representatives of the U.S. Department of
Education about how school inspectorates could most effectively be
adapted to the U.S. Those papers are available by request to CES.
Please Contact Us.
Requirements for 'School Improvement Grants' Have Some Valuable
Content, But Need Substantial Revision",
FEA Comments on Secretary of Education's Notice of Proposed
Requirements for "School Improvement Grants" (SIG) (September 25,
FEA's public comments on Secretary
Duncans proposed requirements for $3.5 billion SIG program.
Comments address: replacement of staff; assessments; professional
development; family and community support and involvement; curriculum;
charter schools, CMOs and EMOs; resources; flexibility; state technical
assistance capacity; reporting; and funding cut-offs after one or two
Guidelines for Race to the Top Has Some Good Ideas, But Priorities Need
FEA Comments on Secretary of Education's Notice of Proposed Priorities,
Requirements, Definitions and Selection Criteria for "Race to the Top
Fund" (RTTT), (August 27, 2009)*
FEA's public comments
on Secretary Duncan's proposals for how to implement the $4.3 billion
RTTT program. Comments address: which factors should be given
most weight; assessments; data collection/opportunity to learn; teacher
and principal quality; school turnaround; family engagement; and
improving state capacity.
Schools and Improving Learning: A Joint Organizational Statement on the
Federal Role in Public Schooling", Forum on Educational
Accountability (June 11, 2009), including list of national
FEA's second overall, and expanded, statement on what the ESEA
reauthorization should contain, including a new section on improving
state data collection and strategy for enhancing equity and adequacy of
resources, as well as more detailed policies on capacity building and
accountability. Also includes a separate "vision" for what
American public education should be.
ESEA 'Accountability' Beyond Student Performance to Measuring, Scoring,
Evaluating and Reporting Implementation of Systemic Changes - A Working
Paper" (PDF), by Gary Ratner and Monty Neill for FEA (October
Addresses six key reforms in professional development and family
support that the ESEA reauthorization should require all of the highest
poverty and lowest achievement Title I-funded schools to implement, and
then, to regularly measure, score, evaluate and to report on the status
of their implementation. Paper shows how these six systemic factors -
that cannot be precisely quantified - could still be appropriately
measured, scored, evaluated and reported. Measurement and reporting of
such non student-performance factors is essential to shift the emphasis
of ESEA "accountability" from sanctioning schools for failing test
scores to holding them responsible for implementing systemic
improvements. (This is only a "working paper" in that it is intended to
show that schools could be held accountable for implementing systemic
improvements and a basic approach for how to do this, but it does not
go in depth into all six factors, is not based on a literature review,
could need changes in details and invites further thinking by others.)
Thoughts on the Nature, Scope and History of the African American
Achievement Gap, with Emphasis on the Impact of Education Law and
Policy," (PDF) Talk to Congressional Black Caucus Foundation
Issue Forum, Capitol Hill (March 6, 2008)
Includes dramatic 2007 NAEP statistics on the current African American
achievement gap, as well as how slavery began, and post-Civil War
"separate and unequal" policies, "tracking", the state "standards,
assessments and accountability" movement and the No Child Left Behind
Act perpetuate, the achievement gap.
- FEA Letter to Presidential Candidates, "Changing the Education Debate in
2008" (PDF) (December 19, 2007)*
Sent by FEA to every Presidential candidate, Republican and Democrat.
Urges each candidate to grab the unique opportunity of this
campaign to reframe the debate on the federal role in school reform by
adopting FEA's principles and legislative recommendations.
Chart Contrasting Positions of NCLB and FEA (PDF), with
accompanying Letter to all Members of Congress (November 5, 2007)*
Chart contrasts: the overall assessment and accountability approaches
of the current law and FEA's recommendations; their underlying
assumptions; each approach's effects on schools' behavior; policies on
critical elements; objections raised to each approach; and their
Recommendations to Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
Committee (PDF) ("Senate Education Committee") to reframe
NCLB's approach to professional development (September 20, 2007)*, with
to House Education and Labor Committee (PDF) ("House
Education Committee") (September 28, 2007)*
Focuses, in part, on the need for ESEA to: require high poverty/low
performing Title I-funded schools to regularly allocate time for, and
provide, critical staff development now, rather than waiting years –
until they fail Adequate Yearly Progress – to improve; increase the
mandated funding allocated for professional development from about 10%
to 20%, with a required 20% state match for this purpose; and require
localities and states to publish annual narrative reports on what steps
they've taken to implement the required systemic improvements,
obstacles faced and actions taken to surmount the obstacles.
Recommendations to House Education and Labor Committee (PDF)
("House Education Committee" to Amend Title II of Miller/McKeon
Discussion Draft, ESEA Reauthorization bill (September 18, 2007,
incorporating revisions of October 30, 2007)*
Chiefly focuses on recommendations to enhance professional development
Recommendations to House Education Committee (PDF) to amend
Title I of Miller/McKeon Discussion Draft, ESEA Reauthorization bill
(September 5, 2007)*
Detailed explanation of various changes needed to make Title I of
Discussion Draft compatible with FEA's overall ESEA legislative
- FEA Letter
to Senate and House Education Committees (PDF) rebutting
criticism of FEA by Secretary Spellings and Education Trust (June 21,
Refutes arguments for perpetuating NCLB mandate that all students score
"proficient" by 2014 and reliance on a single state standardized test
in reading and math.
Legislative Recommendations to Senate Education Committee to amend ESEA
(PDF), "Proposed ESEA/NCLB Amendments" (March 30, 2007)*,
with same Recommendations to House Education Committee (April 5, 2007)*
Comprehensive legislative language and specifications to amend ESEA to
carry out recommendations of FEA-authored report on capacity building
and FEA-commissioned report on assessments. Includes important changes
needed in ESEA to build the capacity of public school stakeholders,
focusing on specific systemic changes required in: professional
development of teachers, principals and pupil services personnel; adult
literacy and parenting skills for families, and adult mentors for
children without families available; and changes in the accountability
and funding schemes to redirect accountability from tests and sanctions
to implementing systemic changes to improve learning.
Recommendations to Senate Education Committee (PDF) to
amend Higher Education Act reauthorization bill on teacher preparation
and certification (March 26, 2007)*, with similar Recommendations to
House Higher Education, Lifelong Learning, and Competitiveness
Subcommittee (PDF) (May 15, 2007)*
Advocacy to integrate coursework with, and greatly lengthen, clinical
preparation of teachers, adopt strategies to enable teachers to teach
higher-order skills, and apply comparable standards for "highly
qualified teachers" to traditional candidates and those from
alternative routes to certification.
- Gary Ratner, "Why
The No Child Left Behind Act Needs To Be Restructured To Accomplish Its
Goals and How To Do It" (PDF), University of the District
of Columbia Law Review, 9 UDC/DCSL L. Rev. 1 (Winter/March 2007)
In-depth analysis of: NCLB's goals, assessment results, and gaps in
student achievement between poor and minority students and their peers;
NCLB's structure; respects in which it is based on faulty premises and
therefore needs to be restructured to accomplish its goals; and how to
- FEA's Report, "Redefining
Accountability: Improving Student Learning by Building Capacity" (PDF)
Detailed summary and analysis of critical changes needed in ESEA
policy. (This report provided the foundation for many of the
legislative changes described in the FEA Legislative Recommendations
Organizational Statement on No Child Left Behind Act (October
21, 2004), including list of 137 national organizational signers as of
June 26, 2007*
FEA's founding document. Central theme: "Overall, the law's emphasis
needs to shift from applying sanctions for failing to raise test scores
to holding states and localities accountable for making the systemic
changes that improve student achievement." Includes declaration of 14
principles for restructuring NCLB to accomplish its goals, including
accountability, assessments, capacity building, sanctions and funding.
Letter to President Bush and Congress (PDF),
"To Accomplish 'No Child Left Behind' Act Goal of Academic Competence
for All Students, We Need To Move Beyond 'Accountability'" (October 15,
CES' path-breaking call for fundamentally
amending NCLB's entire Adequate Yearly Progress –based accountability
strategy, and portions of the Higher Education Act, to concentrate on
providing: effective preparation and training of teachers, principals
and superintendents; intensive adult literacy and parenting skills
training for families of very low-performing students and adult mentors
for such children without families available; and funding for these
systemic reforms chiefly by the federal government.