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NEA's Legislative Priorities

NEA's Top Legislative Priorities for ESEA*

March 21, 2007

1. Inclusion of multiple measures in a revised AYP accountability system so that AYP is not based solely on standardized test scores.

1.1. States would be permitted to develop a research-based school accountability formula or matrix that considers multiple measures.

1.2. Each state shall incorporate into its accountability system additional measures beyond the current use of just two statewide test scores. Other measures states could include are: district-level assessments, graduation rates (for high school), attendance rates, school-level assessments, performance or portfolio assessments, and the percent of students participating in rigorous coursework, which may include dual enrollment, honors, AP, or IB courses.

2. Use of growth models to measure changes in student performance.

2.1. Allow every state to implement a transparent growth model methodology that recognizes continuous improvement for all students, grants schools credit for improving student achievement at all points on the achievement scale (for example, credit for schools that move students from below basic to basic or from proficient to advanced), and for improving student achievement over time. Such systems could track individual student performance or cohort performance.

2.2. The Federal government should not designate the specifics of such a system, but should grant states flexibility to develop growth models, subject to state peer review and review by an independent expert body, such as the National Council on Measurement in Education, the American Psychological Association, the American Educational Research Association, or the Joint Committee on Testing Practice.

2.3. In order to use a growth model, states would provide assurances that they have: a rich data system capable of collecting the data, individual student identifiers, and professional development/training for educators and administrators in how to interpret the data and use it to modify instruction, curriculum offerings, and drive other school or student-based supports and interventions. The specific methodology of any growth model should be transparent.

2.4. Data from growth models in an accountability system should be used exclusively to improve instructional and curriculum decisions and professional development for educators.

3. Shift AYP from a system that labels and penalizes schools to one that rewards success.

3.1. Provide for differentiated outcomes for schools, so that a school that falls short in just one or two criteria would be required to develop and implement a targeted improvement plan for the specific subgroup of students.

3.2. If a parent exercises his or her rights to have their children opt out of taking required tests under state law, then eliminate any associated penalties against schools and districts.

3.3. Provide supports and assistance for schools, including financial support and technical assistance, with assistance targeted to those schools and districts most in need of improvement.

3.4. Reverse the order of SES and public school choice, and allow districts in need of improvement to be approved as supplemental service providers.

3.5. Target both SES and public school choice to students in the particular subgroups that do not make AYP.

3.6. Provide a separate funding stream for public school choice and supplemental educational services requirements so funding for these programs does not divert funds from classroom services.

3.7. Improve the quality of SES services by allowing school districts to monitor provider quality, ensure that SES providers serve both students with disabilities and ELL students, and require that they be fully covered by federal civil rights laws.

4. Provide additional common-sense flexibility for assessing and counting test scores from both students with disabilities and ELL students.

4.1. Allow the IEP teams to determine the appropriate assessment and standards (regular, alternate, or modified) that the assessment should be based on for each child; remove the current arbitrary 1 percent and 2 percent limits.

4.2. For newly arrived immigrant ELL students, for whom native language assessments in the required core content subjects are not available, extend to three years the period of time before their test scores are included in AYP.

5. Add a separately funded class size reduction program with class size limits of 15 to improve student learning, with priority given to high poverty schools and which could be phased in over time.

5.1. Fund a national class size database for the submission of student and teacher data that will permit the accurate calculation of class size for every school building, district and state.

6. Increase flexibility for meeting the "highly qualified" teacher requirements, including teachers of multiple subjects, special education and rural educators.

6.1. Deem fully licensed/certified special education teachers as highly qualified.

6.2. Recognize social studies as a core academic subject.

6.3. Expand current flexibility provided for rural education teachers.

6.4. Deem National Board Certified teachers as highly qualified.

7. Advance teacher quality at the highest poverty schools by providing funding to attract and retain quality teachers and improved teaching and learning conditions.

7.1. Improve teaching and learning conditions at these schools, including school safety and enhanced, focused professional development for educators.

7.2. Provide financial incentives, college student loan forgiveness, housing subsidies, and federal salary supplements for teachers, including National Board Certified teachers.

NEA would oppose an ESEA reauthorization bill if any of the following non-starters were included:

(These are non-starters, not a part of any negotiations)

*These priorities relate to specific changes to the No Child Left Behind provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, please see NEA's Positive Agenda for the entire ESEA reauthorization.