Sen. Rubio Letter to Sec. Duncan on National Standards

September 14, 2011



The Rebels in the Hills Throw the Capital into Disarray

August 17, 2011

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Libya? Well yes at the moment but also NCLB as the Department has decided to allow states to retroactively “reset” their proficiency goals.

Over at Eduwonk, Andy grouses that if you have your attorneys study the fine print, it is actually 92 percent proficiency, and not 2014. He may be right, but the state departments of education either don’t agree or don’t realize it. The AMO charts I have seen all end with 100 percent proficiency in 2014.

McNeil and Klein write:

By letting a state retroactively revise its proficiency targets so that schools do better under the law, the department is setting a precedent that it’s willing to use any loophole or technicality to, depending on your perspective, help states out or avoid making tough decisions against states. This, too, despite vows in June that the Education Department would “enforce” the law.

After a similar faceoff with Idaho chief Tom Luna, the department also let that state keep its proficiency targets level, too, because Idaho hadn’t taken advantage of the three-years-in-a-row allowance.

Department officials say they want to give states breathing room until the details of the package come out next month. But one question I have is: If states can just go back and redo their proficiency targets so schools keep making AYP, why apply for a waiver, especially if you have to adopt reforms prescribed by the Obama administration?

Why indeed? State officials seem likely to draw the conclusion that the Department is profoundly reluctant to employ their only real weapon (withdraw of federal funds) in pursuit of a goal which Secretary Duncan has (correctly) described as utopian. A great loophole hunt may be silly, but it beats having states simply drop their cut scores or openly defy federal law while still taking federal money.

Let’s see what happens next…


Heading to the Heart of Cygnus, Headlong into Mystery…

July 7, 2011

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Ed Week reports that a growing number of states have signaled their intention to ignore the 2014 deadline. USDoE threatens action against these states, and is hoping to leverage the 2014 deadline to spur Congress to act on reauthorization. Congress seems disinterested. Tennessee and others have announced that they will seek waivers, which Secretary Duncan is willing to grant in return for reform, but which Chairman Kline seems to oppose. Duncan wants a reauthorization, but it isn’t in the cards.

Where is all this heading?

Actually, a full-blown train-wreck is not inevitable there is still time to reauthorize ESEA, even if they wait until after the election. Seeing states engage in what could either be described as civil disobedience or lawlessness does send a clear signal that Congress and the administration need to deal with the 2014 event horizon, and that the Safe Harbor loophole is insufficient.

Closer…..move a little closer….a little more….GOTCHA!

Reauthorization beats waivers, and waivers beat the status-quo, which runs the risk of a great cut score dummy down. Washington would be awfully dull without some brinkmanship every now and then, so let’s see how they work this out. Something that would allow states with a system to nudge improvement out of their schools (which NCLB is doing very little of) to run their own testing systems still seems like a sensible idea to me.


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