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Letter to Representative Lee Terry expressing NEA's support for the State and Local Education Flexibility Act (H.R. 2946)

July 11, 2007

Dear Representative Terry:

On behalf of the National Education Association's (NEA) 3.2 million members, we would like to express our general support for the State and Local Education Flexibility Act (H.R. 2946). We believe the bill offers common sense flexibility to help states and schools meet the important goals of the No Child Left Behind Act -- raising achievement for all students and closing achievement gaps.

We are particularly pleased that the bill would:

  • Allow use of growth models to assess individual students' academic improvement over time. This would be a significant improvement over current law, which compares one year's students to the next year's group of students.

  • Return decision-making authority to school districts and states to determine the most appropriate supportive interventions for schools identified as needing intervention, thereby ensuring the most effective use of scarce resources where needed most.

  • Better align NCLB and the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act, by giving back to IEP teams the authority to determine the type of assessment given to a student with a disability, as well as to specify achievement benchmarks.

  • Provide flexibility in testing of Limited-English Proficient students. This provision, which allows the exclusion of LEP students' math and reading scores from calculations of Adequate Yearly Progress when educationally appropriate and only with their parents' consent, builds on a policy already implemented by the U.S. Department of Education.

  • Allow other states to use Nebraska's system of locally developed assessments and multiple administration of such assessments, bringing decision-making closer to the classroom.

  • Provide flexibility to help special education and rural teachers who teach multiple subjects meet highly qualified requirements and help social studies and science teachers demonstrate competence in their subject matter.

We do have some suggestions to further strengthen your bill, particularly regarding assessment of students with disabilities and English Language Learners. We look forward to working with you as Congress moves forward with ESEA reauthorization.

We thank you for your leadership on these important issues.


Diane Shust, Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody, Manager of Federal Advocacy