In the first of a string of posts highlighting the work of our nation’s Teachers of the Year, here is the complete list of ten recommendations recently submitted to Congress for consideration during the reauthorization debate surrounding No Child Left Behind:
10 Changes to NCLB from the Teachers of the Year
1) Fully fund all education and assessment programs that are federally mandated.
2) Allow all states to utilize a growth model for measuring individual student achievement over time.
3) Use multiple methods of assessment to evaluate student learning accurately and report the results to the public.
4) Include language that appropriately addresses the unique needs of students with exceptionalities (disabilities as well as gifts and talents) while continuing to set high standards for all students.
5) Provide assessment information to teachers in a timely manner and professional development in effectively utilizing such information, so that it can inform instruction that will improve teaching and learning.
6) Evaluate current sanctions for failing Adequate Yearly Progress and replace them with proven methods of enhancing achievement.
7) Develop and fund programs that promote meaningful parent and family engagement.
8) Modify assessments and set realistic goals for English Language Learners.
9) Ensure every student is taught by a Highly Effective Teacher who receives ongoing professional development.
10) Include programs for school leadership development that addresses the need for administrators to become instructional leaders who conduct regular classroom observations and provide productive feedback to teachers.
I’ve been mentally wrestling with an interesting question since seeing this list a few weeks back: If we could only guarantee that one of these critical changes would be adopted, which one would you argue in favor of?
Are school leadership development programs the most essential because administrators have so much control over local decision making? Should we concentrate on revising the ways that schools are "measured" by advocating for growth models of student assessment? Does current legislation overlook the very real challenges faced by students with learning disabilites or English Language Learners?
If we wanted to take baby steps—making incremental rather than wholesale changes to NCLB—-where should we begin?