Skip to Content

Letter Supporting Need for Multiple Measures in NCLB

Letter Supporting Need for Multiple Measures in NCLB

August 13, 2007

The Honorable George Miller
Chair, Committee on Education
2205 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Howard P. McKeon
Ranking Member, Committee on Education
2351 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Edward Kennedy
Chair, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Michael Enzi
Ranking Member, Senate HELP Committee
379A Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Sirs:

We are writing in support of the letter you have received from national civil rights organizations advocating the inclusion of multiple indicators (or measures) of school performance in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. We concur with the position taken by these groups that any accountability measures must include multiple assessments of learning and multiple indicators of school performance .

We are concerned that the current administration of federal educational policy has, through its exclusive emphasis on (primarily multiple choice) standardized test scores, both narrowed the curriculum in many schools and led to a focus on lower level intellectual skills. This has been particularly true in schools that serve our most school-dependent students, the very ones who need a rich and broad curriculum and a school experience that engages them in using their minds well. Further, this focus has also discouraged the use of performance assessments which would focus teaching and learning on the higher-order thinking skills our democracy and economy require. It has also discouraged the development of valid and appropriate measures for tracking the progress of English language learners as well as students with learning differences.

We believe that the reauthorization of ESEA should explicitly address these issues through both developing a multiple measures approach to accountability and encouraging states to move to performance-based measures of student achievement, including more valid measures of learning for English language learners and special needs learners. Many of us have previously provided your committee with information on both multiple measures and performance-based assessments. In this letter we want to reiterate several ways in which these measures will help schools and districts improve student outcomes:

  1. Including multiple measures of school performance in an index that can assess overall school progress will focus attention on all the aspects of the educational program, including, for example, a full curriculum and school continuation and graduation rates across all student groups;
  2. Using multiple measures of school performance supports a balanced approach to school improvement, making sure that a single-minded focus on standardized test scores does not lead to inappropriate practices such as keeping or pushing out of school students who do not test well;
  3. Multiple measures that include a range of assessment types and that evaluate the full continuum of achievement are the only means for assessing a comprehensive range of content and skills expected of students across the full of range of ability and achievement levels;
  4. Using performance assessments will provide for a focus on higher-order thinking skills and the application of these skills in ways that will prove critical as our children take their place as citizens in our knowledge economy.

We are encouraged that you and the House Committee on Education have been considering both the use of multiple forms of assessment and multiple measures of accountability. Initially the No Child Left Behind legislation called for multiple measures of student performance and a focus on teaching for high order thinking skills. But our experience with the law as educators, policy makers, and parents over the past five years has shown us that the current legislation and its administration has not encouraged the kinds of state and local assessments and reporting systems needed to make progress in these areas and to validly assess all of the students in our schools.

Thus, we are calling on you to ensure that any reauthorization of ESEA include both multiple measures, including performance based assessments of learning, and multiple indicators of school performance, including students' progress through school to graduation. We encourage you to develop an index that combines these measures into a single target for schools to strive for each year as both students and schools are evaluated in a continuous progress model that measures their growth. We believe such an approach will help schools to undertake the steps that are necessary for systemic improvement and for us to provide for our children the education they each deserve.

Respectfully (Affiliations for purposes of identification only),

Charles Achilles, Professor of Education, Seton Hall University

Joseph A. Aguerrebere, President, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards

Donna Alvermann, Distinguished Research Professor of Language and Literacy Education,

University of Georgia Jacqueline Ancess, Co-Director, National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools and Teaching,Teachers College, Columbia University

Michael W. Apple, Jan Bascom Professor of Curriculum and Instruction and Policy Studies, University of Wisconsin

Eva Baker, Distinguished Professor, University of California at Los Angeles and Past President, American Educational Research Association

James A. Banks, Kerry and Linda Killinger Professor of Diversity Studies and Director, Center for Multicultural Education, University of Washington

Arnetha F. Ball, President, National Conference on Research in Language and Literacy (NCRLL) and Professor of Education, Stanford University

Luis Barrios, Professor and Chair, Puerto Rican/Latin American Studies, City University of New York

John M. Beam, Executive Director, National Center for Schools and Communities, Fordham University

David C. Berliner, Regents Professor, Arizona State University and Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.

Barnett Berry, President & CEO, Center for Teaching Quality

Kenneth J. Bernstein, Teacher, Greenbelt, MD

Marion Brady, Florida Coalition For Assessment Reform

Susan M. Brookhart, Editor, Educational Measurement Issues and Practice and Senior Research Associate, Duquesne University

Robert Calfee, Professor Emeritus, University of California, Riverside

Albert M. Camarillo, Miriam and Peter Haas Centennial Professor of History, Stanford University

Madhabi Chatterji, Professor of Measurement and Evaluation and Co-Director, Assessment and Evaluation

Research Initiative, Teachers College Columbia University

Doug Christenson, Commissioner of Education, Nebraska

Lewis Cohen, Executive Director, Coalition of Essential Schools

Nadine Cohen, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Boston Bar Association
Joel A. Colbert, Professor and Director, Ph.D. Program in Education, Chapman University

Ann Cook, Chair, New York Performance Standards Consortium and Principal, Urban Academy, NY

Margaret Sauceda Curwen, Professor of Education, Chapman University

Linda Darling-Hammond, Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education, and co-Director, School Redesign Network, Stanford University

Sherman Dorn, Editor, Educational Policy Analysis Archives, and Professor, University of South Florida

Carole Edelsky, Professor of Language and Literacy, Arizona State University

Margaret Eisenhart, Charles Professor of Educational Anthropology and Research Methodology, University of Colorado at Boulder

Brenda S. Engel, Senior Research Associate and Founding Co-Director, Program Evaluation and Research Group, and Professor Emeritus, Lesley University

Corey Evans, Center Director, Boston Arts Academy

Joseph Featherstone, Professor Emeritus, Michigan State University

Michelle Fine, Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Urban Education, CUNY Graduate Center

Gustavo E. Fischman, Associate Editor, Education Policy Analysis Archives, and Associate Professor, Arizona State University

Carol Foresta, Executive Director of the Center for Collaborative Education and The Progressive Education Network of New York

Sarah Warshauer Freedman, Professor of Education, University of California, Berkeley

Fred Frelow, Former Director of Curriculum, Nyack Public Schools

Dan French, Executive Director, Center for Collaborative Education, Boston

Michael J. Froning, Dean, School of Education, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Howard Gardner, Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education, Harvard University

Drew Gitomer, Distinguished Researcher, Educational Testing Service

Gene V. Glass, Regents Professor, Arizona State University and Fellow, Educational Policy Project

Carl Glickman, Scholar in Residence, University of Georgia

John Goodlad, Professor Emeritus, University of Washington

Kris Gutierrez, Professor and Director, Center for the Study of Urban Literacies, UCLA

Edward Haertel, Professor of Education, Stanford University

Ronald D. Henderson, National Education Association

Patricia H. Hinchey, Associate Professor and former Director, the Rogers Center for Learning, Penn State University

Jane Hirschmann, Co-chair, Time Out From Testing

Gerry House, President and CEO, Institute for Student Achievement

Jacqueline Jordan Irvine, Candler Professor of Urban Education, Emory University

Barbara L. Jackson, Professor and former Chair, Educational Leadership, Administration, and Policy, Fordham University

Janice Jackson, Co-Chair, National Urban Alliance for Effective Education

Ken Jones, Director of Teacher Education, University of Southern Maine

Ruth Kaplan, Member, Massachusetts Board of Education

Sumner Kaplan, Judge and Former Member, Massachusetts Legislature

Joyce E. King, Benjamin E. Mays Chair for Urban Teaching, Learning & Leadership, Georgia State University

Janette Klingner, Associate Professor of Education and past co-Editor of the Review of Educational Research

University of Colorado at Boulder

Philip Kovacs, Chair, Educator Roundtable, University of Alabama, Huntsville

Gloria Ladson-Billings, Kellner Family Professor in Urban Education and H.I. Romnes Fellow, University of Wisconsin

Carol D. Lee, Professor, Northwestern University

Henry M. Levin, William Hurd Kilpatrick Professor of Economics and Education, Columbia University

Jill Levy, President, American Federation of School Administrators

Robert Linn, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Education, University of Colorado at Boulder and Past President of the National Council of Measurement in Education

Don Long, Director, State Collaborative on Assessment and Student Standards, Council of Chief State School Officers

Catherine A. Lugg, Associate Professor of Education, Rutgers University

Andrea A. Lunsford , Louis Hewlitt Nixon Professor of English, Stanford University

William J. Mathis, Superintendent of Schools, Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union, VT

Deborah Meier, MacArthur Fellow, Visiting Scholar, NYU Steinhardt School of Education

Roslyn Arlin Mickelson, Professor of Sociology, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Zoe Mikva, Board Member, Mikva Challenge Grant Foundation

Linda Moggio, Director of Family and Children's Ministries, Christ Episcopal Church, Reading, PA

Clyde E. Murphy, Executive Director, Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

Larry Myatt, Senior Associate, Office of High School Renewal, Boston Public Schools

Linda Nathan, Co-Headmaster, Boston Arts Academy

Michael Neal, Warren County Schools (TN)

Monty Neill, Chair, Forum on Educational Accountability and Co-Executive Director, FairTest

Pedro Noguera, Professor and Director, Metropolitan Center for Urban Education, New York University

Bernard Noven , Past President and founding member, Parents United for Responsible Education

Joy Noven, Former Director and Co-founder, Parents United for Responsible Education

Jeannie Oakes, Presidential Professor and Director, Institute for Democracy Education & Access, UCLA

Joel Packer, Director, Educational Policy and Practice, National Education Association

Roy Pea, Professor and Director, Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning, Stanford University

Raymond Pecheone, Co-Executive Director, School Redesign Network, Stanford University

Robert S. Peterkin, Francis Keppell Professor of Education Policy and Administration, Director, Urban Superintendents Program, Harvard Graduate School of Education

CJ Prentiss, Former State Senator (OH), Governor's Special Assistant on Closing the Achievement Gap

Wendy Puriefoy, Director, Public Education Network

Debby Pope, Teacher, Chicago Public Schools

Curtis Ramsey-Lucas, National Ministries, American Baptist Churches USA

Douglas B. Reeves, Founder and Director, The Leadership and Learning Center

Judith Rényi, Former Director, National Foundation for the Improvement of Education

Jan Resseger, Minister for Public Education and Witness. United Church of Christ

Luis O. Reyes, Coordinator, Coalition for Educational Excellence for English Language Learners

Roger Rocha, State Director, Texas League of United Latin American Citizens

Thomas Rogers, Executive Director, New York State Council of School Superintendents

Jay Rosner, The Princeton Review Foundation

Alan H. Schoenfeld, Elizabeth and Edward Conner Professor of Education, University of California, Berkeley

Richard Shavelson, Margaret Jack Professor of Education Director, Stanford Educational Assessment

Laboratory, Stanford University

Lorrie A. Shepard, Dean, School of Education, University of Colorado at Boulder, and President, National Academy of Education

Esmeralda Simmons, Executive Director, Center for Law and Social Justice, Medgar Evers College, CUNY

Nancy Sizer, Author and Co-founder, Francis Parker Charter School

Ted Sizer, Founder, Coalition of Essential Schools and University Professor Emeritus, Brown University

Lisa Smulyan, Professor and Chair, Educational Studies, Swarthmore College

Jon Snyder, Dean, Graduate School of Education, Bank Street College

Elizabeth Stage, Director, Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley

Dorothy M. Steele, Executive Director, Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, Stanford University

Deborah Stipek, James Quillen Dean, School of Education, Stanford University

William T. Trent, Professor of Education, University of Illinois

Angela Valenzuela, Professor, University of Texas at Austin, and Director, Texas Center for Education Policy

Tony Wagner, Co-Director, Change Leadership Group, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Kevin G. Welner, Associate Professor and Director, Education in the Public Interest Center, University of Colorado at Boulder

Anne Wheelock, Education Writer

Betty Lou Whitford, Dean, College of Education, University of Southern Maine

Karen Wixson, Professor and Former Dean, College of Education, University of Michigan

Julie Woestehoff, Executive Director, Parents United for Responsible Education

Dennie Palmer Wolf, Senior Scholar, Annenberg Institute for School Reform

Ronald A. Wolk, Chairman of the Board, Editorial Projects in Education Inc. and Founding Editor, Education Week

Douglas E. Wood, Professor and Director, National Academy for Excellent Teaching, Teachers College, Columbia University

George H. Wood, Director, The Forum for Education and Democracy and Principal, Federal Hocking Middle/High School

Karen Zumwalt, Professor, Teachers College Columbia University