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Letter to Senator Murkowski expressing NEA's support for the School Accountability Improvements Act (S. 1236)

June 29, 2007

Dear Senator Murkowski:


On behalf of the 3.2 million members of the National Education Association (NEA), we would like to express our strong support for the School Accountability Improvements Act (S. 1236). We thank you for your leadership in introducing this bill, which we believe will provide common sense flexibility to improve key provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

As you may know, NEA has consistently expressed support for NCLB's goals -- closing achievement gaps, increasing student achievement, and ensuring that all students learn from qualified teachers -- but we also have advocated for several major changes to ensure great public schools for every child. We are pleased that your bill reflects recommendations for providing secondary school teachers of multiple subjects in small schools, such as those from rural areas, with a reasonable way to meet the highly qualified requirements and to support use of growth models. We also support your proposals to:

  • Provide supplemental educational services prior to implementing mandated student transfers under the accountability system, with resources focused on those students not meeting proficiency standards.

  • Permit local school districts to provide supplemental educational services themselves, even if the district has been identified as in need of improvement.

  • For schools in need of improvement, target interventions and the required planning process to those subgroups needing additional help.

  • Allow flexibility in counting grade three assessment results for AYP purposes for certain schools providing Native language instruction to kindergarten through second grade children if there is no valid, reliable assessment in such heritage language, as long as schools can demonstrate progress toward proficiency using a growth model.

  • Focus on parental involvement in schools and allow funds to be used to help educators learn how to communicate effectively with parents of their students.

Again, we thank you for considering NCLB changes recommended by a number of stakeholders and look forward to working together to garner support for this measure as Congress reauthorizes NCLB. If you need additional assistance, please contact Kim Anderson (Kanderson@nea.org) in NEA Government Relations or Donna Harris-Aikens (DHarris-Aikens@nea.org) in Education Policy and Practice.

Sincerely,

Diane Shust, Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody, Manager of Federal Advocacy