“For the sake of our children and the nation's future, we must overhaul the federal education law,” said FEA Chair Dr. Monty Neill, who directs the K-12 assessment reform program at the
Empowering Schools explains, "Incremental changes will not fix NCLB's serious flaws and will not enable all students to succeed. To ensure high-quality learning outcomes, Congress must . . . focus on improved assistance, help ensure funding equity and adequacy, redefine accountability, and reshape the federal relationship with states and districts."
"This is the largest alliance of major organizations ever to come together on a detailed set of recommendations for overhauling No Child Left Behind,” said Quentin Lawson, Executive Director of the National Alliance of Black School Educators. "It represents a remarkably unified voice for so many disparate groups to endorse these far-reaching proposals.”
“Empowering Schools recognizes the need to view children as more than standardized test scores,” said National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel.” “It attempts to fundamentally shift away from the test, label, punish regime established under No Child Left Behind and toward a renewed commitment and role for the federal government in education. If implemented, Empowering Schools will get us a step closer toward realizing the vision of great public schools for every student.”
Other organizations signing the Empowering Schools statement to overhaul NCLB include the League of United Latin American Citizens, ASPIRA, Advancement Project, Council for Exceptional Children, Learning Disabilities Association of America, National Council of Churches, Public Education Network and American Federation of School Administrators.
The Statement says, "Schools must have programs to provide all students with a coherent and intellectually challenging curriculum that includes 21st century critical thinking, problem solving, and high-level communication skills, and that ensures deep understanding of content." It addresses 14 key areas in which the federal government must play a positive role in improving school quality and student achievement. Among them are:
- Greatly strengthen teachers' abilities to succeed with all students, parent involvement, and parent learning. In particular, expand high-quality professional development for teachers.
- Build new local and state assessment systems that use multiple measures from tests to projects and portfolios, support learning, and provide information about student progress across all important subject areas as well as grade promotion and graduation rates.
- Require states to report on students' opportunity to learn, using data from both school and community; then design approaches to overcome inadequacies and inequities.
- Create accountability systems that consider resources available to schools, improvement processes schools use, and learning outcomes; expect rates of improvement in student achievement based on real-world evidence of success; and provide additional assistance and interventions based on careful analyses of each school's strengths and needs.
- Live up to federal promises by fully funding key education laws and making them mandatory items in future budgets.
Empowering Schools and Improving Learning builds on the Joint Organizational Statement on NCLB, issued in October 2004 and now signed by 151 national organizations. The Forum will soon sponsor Congressional briefings and meet with Education Department staff to ensure its recommendations form the core of a new federal law.
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Empowering Schools, with the complete list of signers, is available at http://www.edaccountability.org, as is the Joint Statement and several reports that provide more detail on key FEA recommendations.Selected contacts from Forum on Educational Accountability:
"Empowering Schools focuses attention on the critical need to engage parents by giving them the tools to actively and meaningfully participate in their children's education."
- Connie Parr, president of the Learning Disabilities Association of America.
“The Empowering Schools and Improving Learning statement sets forth critical priorities to ensure that diverse student needs are met. In particular, instituting multiple measures of assessment and adequate teacher training will provide English Language Learners and other special needs populations the flexibility and attention they need to excel.”
- Khin Mai Aung, Attorney, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
"People understand that kids need a good education to compete for jobs and become good citizens. That means all kids need a genuine opportunity to learn. The Empowering Schools recommendations can build that opportunity for the many urban and rural kids now being shortchanged."
- Molly A. Hunter, Director, Education Justice,
"Empowering Schools and Improving Learning challenges policymakers to seek alternatives to multiple choice tests and consider the needs of all students, including those with disabilities and gifts and talents, when examining what is possible to measure, what is important to measure and how we get there."
- Lindsay Jones, Senior Director for Policy and Advocacy, Council for Exceptional Children
"For arts education, the Empowering Schools and Improving Learning statement is a positive step towards providing the necessary support to all the core academic subjects. It addresses the unintended consequences that have narrowed the curriculum in many public schools and greatly limited access to arts education."
- Robert L. Lynch, CEO & President, Americans for the Arts