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Letter to Representative Matheson supporting his Flexibility for Individual Excellence in Education Act

October 25, 2007

Dear Representative Matheson:

On behalf of the 3.2 million members of the National Education Association (NEA), we would like to express our support for the Flexibility for Individual Excellence in Education Act (H.R. 3426). 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.

NEA has consistently expressed support for NCLB's goals. However, we believe several major changes to NCLB are needed to ensure great public schools for every child. We are pleased that your bill would offer flexibility in developing a reasonable accountability system, and in meeting NCLB's highly qualified teacher mandates. Specifically, we support your proposals to:

  • Allow states flexibility to use additional assessment models for measuring student progress and to receive credit under Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) formulas for gains students make.

  • Provide states additional flexibility in assessing students with disabilities. The Individualized Education Program of a student with disabilities would be given greater weight in choosing an appropriate assessment.

  • Better target designation of schools as "in need of improvement" by limiting such designation to when the same student group falls short of meeting AYP in the same subject for two years.

  • Improve school choice and supplemental education services (SES) requirements by limiting them to students in the subgroup that failed AYP and allowing states to offer SES prior to school choice.

  • Increase flexibility in meeting highly qualified requirements by deeming middle and secondary teachers with a minor in the relevant subject to be highly qualified; providing funding and additional time for rural schools to meet the requirements; and limiting the highly qualified concept to teachers of core subjects.

Again, we thank you for considering NCLB changes recommended by a number of stakeholders and for taking a leadership role by introducing this bill. We look forward to working with you to garner additional support for this measure as Congress begins the process of reauthorizing NCLB. If you need any assistance, please contact either Kim Anderson ( in NEA Government Relations or Donna Harris-Aikens ( in Education Policy and Practice.


Diane Shust, Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody, Manager of Federal Advocacy