Radically rethinking esea

684 views

Published on

Published in: Education
0 Comments
0 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Views
Total views
684
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
2
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
9
Comments
0
Likes
0
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Radically rethinking esea

  1. 1. 11 Rethinking ESEA A Zero-Base Reauthorization Marshall S. Smith E instein said that the defi nition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Over the past forty-six years, the U.S. Congress has reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) six times and made numerous other changes without ever challenging the fundamental assumptions and elements of the act. Although ESEA has carried at least two major changes to national policy (more on that later)—and at least once, in 1994, the act was entirely rewritten—at no time has Congress or an administration started with a clean slate rather than with the concept of amendments. In this chapter, I carry out a thought experiment in which I build a new ESEA starting with a set of goals and with what we have learned over the past forty-six years about what the government can and cannot do well and about how to improve education systems and teaching and learning.1 Why do we need a thought experiment now? In 1965, Title I was designed to provide supplemental educational services to low-achieving children in low-income schools in almost all of the districts in the United States. Now, almost a half-century later, is this the way, with a $16 billion yearly budget, that the federal government can most effectively help to close the achievement gap? This question has not been asked. Other questions have been asked but little change has happened. ESEA, providing less than 6 percent of the national K–12 budget, has more than fi fty program authorities. 2 Many have relatively small budgets, provide modest services, reach a small fraction of the target audience, and lack evidence of effectiveness. Moreover, the multiple programs create incoherence, 231
  2. 2. 232 Carrots, Sticks, and the Bully Pulpit fragmentation of policy, and substantial administrative and complianceoriented administrative burdens at all levels of education governance. For these reasons, almost every administration (Democratic and Republican) has tried to substantially reduce the number of programs using the appropriation and/or reauthorization process.3 Yet, during most reauthorizations, new, generally small programs are added to the act. In addition, most existing programs are retained and slightly modified according to some combination of the latest research, the ideologies of our political leaders, and the advocacy politics of small but insistent constituencies. Some of these programs may deserve retention on their merits. My intent is not to claim that all are failures. It is to ask the hypothetical question of whether the funds might be better spent to accomplish the nation’s goals of improving achievement and attainment for all of our students. The content and underlying theories of many of these programs reflect the knowledge and practice of earlier times. In a thought experiment, we can set aside the practicalities of vested interest politics and program inertia and focus on approaches that build on past lessons and new knowledge. WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED ABOUT THE ROLE OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT? One consideration when thinking about the effects of federal legislation is the legal structure of education in the United States. The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution constrains the role of the federal government and legitimates a prominent state role, unlike many of our smaller competitor nations. The constrained federal role and the three tiers of governance have influenced both the development and the implementation of federal law.4 Advocates of the Tenth Amendment might ask the question: if we are to rethink the federal approach to education, why not respond by turning education over to the states and getting the federal government out of the business? There are three main reasons. By and large, major federal legislation and Supreme Court decisions have focused on national crises generally around economic issues and the implementation of civil rights. The Vocational Education Act, introduced in 1917 to help give World War I veterans the opportunity for a working wage, is an early example of a national economic crisis. More recently, there has been a lot of rhetoric, and some minor programs have been authorized, to improve science and mathematics education in response to economic challenges from other nations. The 1965 passage of ESEA was in response to the challenges set forth in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The passage of ESEA was the beginning of an
  3. 3. Rethinking ESEA 233 extraordinary collection of legislation that addressed the nation’s inequities in schooling. ESEA was soon followed by Title IX in the 1972 ESEA Amendments banning sex discrimination in schools and the Education for All Handicapped Children Act passed in 1975, which dramatically improved education opportunities for over 10 percent of our young people who had not been treated fairly by our school systems. At its heart, ESEA addresses economic and social inequities and has stood for years as a symbol of our nation’s commitment to a fair education for all. While a belief in fairness and equity for all children now motivates the work of most educators, the issues of inequities of access and quality continue to remain very relevant today among and within states and districts. For this, if for no other reason, there continues to be great need of a federal role. Moreover, the very fact that deep inequities continue to exist after forty-six years is an excellent reason to reexamine ESEA from the bottom up: in the next half-century, we must be far more productive in these areas than we have been in the past. A second critical reason is that the challenges of a global economy, a complex and changing international environment, and the technology and communication revolutions have dramatically increased our collective national need to ensure our future prosperity. As a nation, we are ever more dependent on the quality of our human capital to carry us into a productive and safe future. Our schools are better than many think, but we must ask them to change and become smarter. A third reason is efficiency and effectiveness in research, innovation, and development and in gathering and publishing information about the health of the U.S. educational system. Rather than fi fty separate state efforts, a smart federal role makes a lot of sense. Thus, the question I pose here is not whether or why the federal government should be involved, but how should it be involved in the twenty-fi rst century. A fi rst step is to establish what we have learned about the ways in which the federal government and its policy instruments are effective or ineffective so that we can explore how to improve. RULES: LEGISLATION AND REGULATION When federal legislation, such as ESEA, seeks to alter something in classrooms, schools, districts, and states, the legislation is not transmitted alone. For a variety of reasons, including legislative ambiguity and even contradictions in the legislative language arising often as an odd product of political compromise, the laws are generally interpreted by federal regulations and guidance.
  4. 4. 234 Carrots, Sticks, and the Bully Pulpit The combination of legislation and regulations can be daunting to read and interpret. In the current version of ESEA, the reauthorization in 2002 and its regulations (updated almost yearly), there are tens of thousands of words. The words represent federal intent in legal, restrictive, and narrow language, with the goals of ensuring clarity and uniform implementation in the schools and of creating a more or less quantifiable way of monitoring the use of federal funds. This approach has one fundamental problem: it leads to educational decisions and behavior by people at the local level that are based on their view of faithful implementation of the federal rules rather than on their professional judgment about how best to carry out the intent of the legislation in their particular environment. It creates a fear of innovation, which limits thoughtful adaptation of the legislation’s intent. Yet, rules are sometimes necessary to protect the recipients and to provide general guidance. For example, the U.S. government and its agencies have sets of general rules and guidance around the expenditure of federal funds. Moreover, regulation is sometimes absolutely necessary to interpret vague legislation. Unfortunately, all too often the specifications and one-size-fits-all construction indicate a lack of trust in teachers, principals, and superintendents to exercise good judgment in meeting the intent of the legislation. There were times and conditions in our history, such as during the civil rights era and the years preceding the passage of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, when that distrust was justified, but this distrust now often ultimately cripples meaningful and continuous system improvement. Even if the writers of the legislation and the detailed regulation of activities and inputs are not driven by mistrust, they often ignore important variations in context. Moreover, the acts of creating legislation and regulation can impart a sense of ownership to the authors and foster a climate of compliance in the government where the focus is more on what grant recipients do with the funds rather than whether the grant is having a positive effect. Specifying the Processes/Inputs It is useful to separate this discussion into two parts: the specification of processes/inputs and the regulation of outcomes. There are many examples of the problems of over- or misguided specification of inputs from legislation and regulations. For example, in reaction to evidence of relatively few misuses of Title I money in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Congress created legislative language and the education department created regulations that together restricted the use of money in fairly rigid ways. The intent was reasonable, but Congress and the education department (then
  5. 5. Rethinking ESEA 235 the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare) failed to anticipate the possibly harmful implications of the new rules. One rule, the so-called supplement-not-supplant provision, was used to ensure that no Title I money could pay for services that might support non– Title I children. Thus, in a reading lesson in a classroom in a school with Title I and non–Title I students, Title I money could only be used for Title I students. The application of this rule across the nation led to pulling Title I students out of regular reading lessons and placing them in special reading classes for only Title I students. They were thus denied the opportunity to have reading instruction from their regular teacher, who was often better qualified than their “pull-out” instructor. By the mid-1970s, some 60 percent of Title I children who received special reading instruction were in pull-out classes, which added, at best, a little extra time to their reading instruction. Segregated by reading level, Title I students often missed out on the positive effect of a social class mix of students, shown to be important by a variety of studies, including the Coleman Report in the mid-1960s.5 Even now, there are many rules that could lead to such unintended consequences. For example, from the federal level, we regulate permissible models for turning around “failing” schools in every state, the kinds of professional development that federal monies can pay for, the speed with which English language learners are expected to learn English, and, often in great detail, the percentage of federal funds to be allocated by a state or district among various agencies or purposes. All of these are areas where context plays an important role; it interacts with the nature of the intervention. All of these are areas where adaptations of rules may be necessary to create effective activities. Regulating Outcomes A possible response to these problems is not to regulate the means or inputs but to only regulate the hoped-for outcomes. However, an important problem with this approach is that the metric chosen for an outcome takes on huge meaning if there are important consequences to success or failure. Campbell’s law holds that “when test scores become the goal of the teaching process, they both lose their value as indicators of educational status and distort the educational process in undesirable ways.”6 In a well-documented unintended effect of No Child Left Behind’s (NCLB) accountability system, many teachers in the weeks before state testing are asked to focus mainly on students whose achievement is very slightly below proficient at the expense of other, lower achieving students.7 In another example, studies
  6. 6. 236 Carrots, Sticks, and the Bully Pulpit indicate that the elementary and middle school curriculum has been narrowed because of Title I’s focus on holding schools accountable almost entirely for only the reading and mathematics achievement of their students.8 A third example that shows the political power of NCLB is that over the past few years, a number of states have reduced the level of assessment scores necessary to meet the proficiency goals on their state examinations.9 These examples of unintended consequences of NCLB and its accountability system only scratch the surface of a large literature taking fault with NCLB and, in general, with rigid and penalty-driven, performance-based accountability. Over the past dozen years, the literature on performancebased accountability and test-based incentives has grown increasingly sophisticated. This literature looks at technical issues, including statistical reliability; issues of theory and breadth and validity, including the need for multiple measures for complex goals; the use of incentives, both positive and negative; issues of implementation, including the lack of capacity in some settings to accurately make measurements and to carry out consequences; unintended consequences; and political implications. An important recent report from the National Research Council concludes that “the available evidence does not give strong support for the use of test-based incentives to improve education and provides only minimal guidance about which incentive designs may be effective.”10 It goes on to suggest that careful research on the nature and use of performance incentives be initiated and that successful implementation and use of incentive systems requires substantial capacity and, implying a feedback loop, that the “incentive system include provisions to promote that capacity.”11 The themes of the value of using multiple measures and improving capacity and quality as part of accountability systems are echoed in a Rand study that examines forms of accountability and organizational improvement in a variety of sectors.12 David Cohen and Susan Moffitt critically address the use of value-added measures (VAM) for assessing teacher quality and conclude that using VAM is an ill-judged effort to “short circuit the underlying problems of teaching quality in U.S. schools.”13 Overall, Cohen and Moffitt and Michael Fullan are skeptical about the use of incentive systems to improve schools, and they focus on issues of policy coherence, capacity building, social capital, and implementation as more integral to school improvement than is performance accountability.14 There is no good way of knowing whether or not the school performance accountability system legislated in ESEA since 1994 has helped improve test scores, much less student achievement. There are too many other variables involved. However, there was a distinct change in the accountability system when NCLB was enacted in 2002. NCLB more than dou-
  7. 7. Rethinking ESEA 237 bled the amount of required testing, established an impossible long-term goal to be reached, and created a set of penalties that were more likely to punish diverse schools. This change gives us the opportunity to contrast a modest accountability system (1994–2002) with a more aggressive system (2002–2011). The main independent source of information in the United States about the gains associated with the 1994 and 2002 amendments is the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). There are two NAEPs. One, called the longitudinal NAEP, was started in the 1970s and measures basic skills in reading and mathematics. The other, the main NAEP, was designed in the late 1980s to assess “making complex inferences” and “problem solving and reasoning.”15 On both NAEPs, when the data are accurately analyzed by subgroups, they show strong average gains during the overall period from 1994 to 2009. 16 On the main NAEP, the rates of gain of scores in reading and mathematics at both the fourth and eighth grades were somewhat greater in the period from 1994 to 2002 than from 2002 to 2009 (the NCLB years). On the longitudinal NAEP, the rates of gain for reading for nine- and thirteenyear-olds was slightly greater during the NCLB years and for mathematics for both age groups was very slightly greater prior to NCLB. The reading result for longitudinal NAEP could be due to the emphasis on the Reading First program in the NCLB years, a program that emphasized basic skills. Overall the NAEP data show mixed effects on the rates of growth with a slight nod to the time prior to NCLB. The lack of reading gains during the NCLB period on the main NAEP for eighth grade is particularly discouraging. These comparisons only give us a rough idea about the possible effects on student achievement of performance accountability; but they do suggest that more is not necessarily better. One fi nal component of the NCLB accountability system should be noted. NCLB requires that achievement scores of subgroups of students, divided by racial, ethnic, and economic backgrounds, be made publicly available. This is an important and positive use of transparency as a mechanism of accountability, which has resulted in heightened public attention to how well their schools were doing and the importance of the achievement gap. The idea of subgroups was also extended in NCLB to be part of the general accountability system by a requirement that unless all subgroups in a school reached required levels of achievement over two to three years, the school was labeled as being in danger of failing. In a sad irony for those who believe in desegregation, this provision made the accountability challenge more difficult for schools with diverse student bodies than for racially isolated schools, because there were more subgroups that could fail. The
  8. 8. 238 Carrots, Sticks, and the Bully Pulpit careful use of transparency to exhibit subgroup scores and gains as a mechanism of soft accountability, however, can be a very powerful incentive. LEVERAGING AND COMPETITIVE INCENTIVES In each of the last two ESEA reauthorizations (1994 and 2002), Title I was reauthorized as a major funding program that supported programs and schools with high percentages of low-income students. In both years, the Title I legislation required that states make major changes in their systems, changes that influenced all students and all schools, not just those in Title I, as a condition of receiving Title I funds. In 1994, the Title I legislation specified that to receive funding, states had to have content and performance standards for schools receiving Title I funds and that the standards had to be the same that were required for other schools in their state. Most states did not have content and performance standards at the time of this act’s passage. However, by requiring that Title I schools have standards as a condition of taking Title I funding and that the standards were the same as those in non–Title I schools in the state, the legislation made it necessary for every state to adopt the same standards for all of its schools.17 The 2002 ESEA version, NCLB, kept the structure and requirements for standards-based reform from the 1994 amendments and added important requirements to Title I. Using the same language that was used in 1994, the 2002 amendments added a much more aggressive federal accountability system. One conclusion that can be drawn from this is that leveraging works to change behavior. States carried out major reforms that they otherwise might not have carried out unless large amounts of money were conditional on adoption of the reforms. However, it is possible that the reforms were actually desired by many states, and the fact that Title I was involved may have given the states the political ammunition to adopt and implement them. Nonetheless, that states can be induced to adopt and try to implement complex reforms under the not particularly realistic threat of losing Title I resources is an important lesson. The Race to the Top (RTTT) competition in 2009 and 2010 is a second example of the power of leveraging. At over $4 billion, RTTT was far and away the largest grant competition that the Department of Education has ever managed. Forty-seven of the fifty-one eligible jurisdictions prepared and submitted lengthy and detailed proposals; eleven won. In order to gain points in the competition, states had to commit to carrying out the reforms and also show that they had already made policy decisions that supported
  9. 9. Rethinking ESEA 239 many of the reforms. As a consequence of the requirements for prior commitment, a number of states passed legislation, changed regulations, or otherwise moved in the policy directions that would accumulate points before the competition ended. Moreover, many of the jurisdictions that did not win have since committed themselves to one or more of the reforms. This suggests to some that money buys reform. Yet, that is only part of the story. Even though the dollars involved were considerable, they were hardly worth a state committing itself to a policy direction that its leaders didn’t generally agree with. For example, the average RTTT-winning state has one million students and received a little under $400 million to be spent over four years. This amounts to roughly $100 a student a year, about the cost of one textbook. A conclusion that these actions were taken entirely for the money is not plausible. My sense is that a majority of the state policy makers wanted to enact at least some of the suggested policies and used the possible resources as political leverage. This interpretation, arguably, is supported by the actions of the states that lost in the competition, which, even in this dire economic environment, are moving to implement the reforms. In short, we have learned that: 1. The relevance of programs can change over time as conditions change 2. Overregulation of inputs can become a disease that distorts local behavior, sometimes very badly, and may represent a failure of trust and lead to compliance-based cultures at the federal, state, and local levels 3. Regulation of outcomes is fraught with danger from unintended consequences and apparently has little positive effect on productivity 4. Transparency can be a powerful mechanism for accountability 5. Levers and incentives (from large funding programs and competitions) work to change behavior and may provide local and state leaders with an excuse to do what they would like to. WHAT WOULD A CLEAN-SLATE ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION ACT LOOK LIKE? In this section I sketch a design for a new ESEA that builds on what we know about how federal programs and actions seem to have worked, or not, and integrate this knowledge with what we have learned from research and experience about system and organizational development and teaching and learning. The result is one version of a new ESEA. The new ESEA would have a preamble, three titles, and a total of seven authorities.
  10. 10. 240 Carrots, Sticks, and the Bully Pulpit Preamble The new ESEA would support state and local systems that aim to improve student achievement, graduation, college going, and student readiness for the earliest grades; to close gaps in achievement and attainment; and to meet clear targets for national growth on international assessments. This legislation will guide rather than direct; address the problems that cause inequalities; build capacity and infrastructure; focus on implementation and continuous improvement; use the power of transparency to serve as an accountability mechanism; and enable a strong and useful program of applied research, with specific attention to harnessing the potential of technology. The legislation will build on the lessons learned from past federal experience summarized earlier in this chapter. The act will not support a collection of small programs or try to address specific local problems. The track record of the federal government is not good in this regard. Goals will set out the aspirations for legislation and can direct national attention to important purposes. In this legislation, the fi rst four goals would apply at all levels of government. The five goals are: 1. Continuous and substantial growth of student achievement and gap closure on state tests, preferably on assessments developed for the common standards that would facilitate comparability among states 2. Continuous and substantial growth and gap closures in graduation rates 3. Continuous and substantial growth and gap closing of rates of students entering kindergarten and fi rst grade with the skills, knowledge, and habits needed to succeed in school 4. Continuous and substantial growth and gap closing in college-going and graduation rates 5. Continuous and substantial growth nationally, by state, and by district on the NAEP, TIMSS, and PISA assessments. Each part of the three titles will be in two sections: the first section will provide a rationale for the part based primarily on research, and the second part will describe possible legislative language. Title I: Creating Opportunity and Success for All This new Title I focuses on the single most important problem in U.S. education: the extraordinary amount of inequality in the system. In theory, a state or district system that embraces continuous improvement while simultaneously holding the value of equality should be able to reduce gaps in a
  11. 11. Rethinking ESEA 241 steady and effective way. However, as with other important characteristics of our society, such as income, the reduction of inequalities in education is hard to accomplish. Educational opportunity and performance inequalities exist at all levels of the system. This title addresses state inequality in resources by stimulating the use of state fi nance formulae that take into account the special needs of low-income and other students. The title would also provide funds directly to districts with the 20 percent of schools that have the highest concentrations of poverty. It would also initiate and support efforts to improve early school readiness for over a million low-income young people and/or English language learners by explicitly focusing on the development of language and self-regulation. Part A: Reducing funding inequalities within states. The purpose of this part is to address the great disparities within states and districts in the distribution of general support funds. The theory is that a distribution formula that is sensitive to the needs of low-income students, English language learners (ELLs), and children with disabilities would provide a greater than average proportion of available resources to the districts and schools with students most in need. This would not solve the problems of inequality, but it would create a base of support and opportunity for students with the greatest needs. Many states will have to fi nd innovative solutions to create a school finance formula that requires student-weighted levels of resources, because their districts provide a substantial percentage of education funding and wish to maintain local control. In states where most of the resources are distributed from the center, the technical aspects are easier. But in either situation, a transition problem arises because some schools or districts could lose funds in the redistribution process and it would take some time to reach new equilibrium. Resources from this legislation could provide the incentive that states might need to adopt a distribution formula based on weighted pupil factors. My sense is that the most effective mechanism to stimulate interest in this effort would be a wide-open competition. This activity could make a very important contribution to equal opportunity in many states. As a start, it would need a budget of $4 billion a year for five years with a carry-over provision. The funds would help address state inequalities in at least a quarter of the fifty states. If the program is successful and there was the chance of more states entering the competition, the program would be extended for another five years. The overall goal would be to have all states achieve a greater and sustainable level of equality in their school finance system.
  12. 12. 242 Carrots, Sticks, and the Bully Pulpit Part B: Reform the highest-poverty schools. This part would allocate funds in schools that have the largest poverty density. The legislation would assume that the schools and districts would have resources from Title II of this act for the implementation of standards-based reforms and a continuous improvement system and may have resources from Title I, Part A. The mixture of funds should be fully integrated and fungible. The goal for a school receiving funds under this part is to create a highquality, engaging, effective, and sustainable educational environment focused on substantially improving achievement and attainment and closing the gaps. To do this will require that the districts and schools develop a strong culture of continuous improvement as well as adopting innovative strategies, chosen by local educators, to ensure that all students are motivated and learning. The Part B funds would support the combination of continuous improvement and innovation. One approach might be to adopt and implement proven models such as Success for All, America’s Choice, Core Knowledge, or charter management organization models such as KIPP, Aspire, or HiTech High. In secondary schools, challenging alternative pathways, such as career and technical education for students who are not motivated by traditional curricula, also might be effectively used. Technology applications, including open full courses, tutoring, and performance projects, should be available for all students. The use of rigorously certified human tutors to support classroom learning out of school is a promising strategy, one widely used in Asia. At the middle and secondary levels, steps to support the odds of students’ graduating should be taken, including strong counseling and providing young adult mentors. The legislative language would be spare, stressing the overall goals and the importance of a coherent long-term commitment, the adoption of effective strategies, and the use of transparency to engage parents and the community. For states that adopt weighted student formulas, there would be no fiscal regulations other than targeting for these funds; for other states, a strong “comparability” fiscal regulation for districts would be required. The funds would go to districts with schools that have the highest percentages and numbers of low-income families. The focus would be on reaching the highest-poverty elementary, middle, and high schools that contain a total of 20 percent of the nation’s school population. The appropriation would be $10 billion, roughly $1,000 per student for ten million students. Districts could use up to 10 percent of the funds for activities that support the purposes of Part B. All eligible schools would receive Title I, Part B money. Schools would be guaranteed the funds for six years. Over the subsequent four years, the resources would be phased out
  13. 13. Rethinking ESEA 243 of schools that had become ineligible because of changing populations, and other, newly eligible schools would be funded. After the second year of the program, another $1 billion each year would be appropriated as incentive funds for districts with eligible high schools that improve graduation rates. For example, an increase of four percentage points in graduation rates (for example, from 70 to 74 percent) averaged over two years would be worth a 15 percent increase in funds, while an increase of six percentage points in graduation rates would be worth an increase of 25 percent. During the fi rst ten years of the programs, the schools and districts receiving funds would be carefully evaluated with three sets of reports that provided evidence about overall effectiveness and information that could be used by district and schools for improvement. The fi nal report would be received by the federal government at the end of the eighth year, in time for possible reauthorization. Part C: Prepare students from low-income families to enter school ready to succeed. The purpose of this part is to increase the likelihood that children from low-income families and ELLs enter school with the cognitive and noncognitive skills and knowledge they need to do well in school. Extensive bodies of research show vividly that many lower income (and some other) children arrive at school with substantially inadequate oral language skills, including very small working vocabularies, and without the skills of self-regulation that are necessary to benefit from school. These children start out far, far behind in kindergarten and fi rst grade and rarely catch up. The sizes of working vocabularies of students in welfare homes, for example, are, on average, one-third the size of students in middle-income homes. In general, they do not catch up. By the time they reach fi fth or sixth grade and are faced with math word problems, the language embedded within the problems can give them as much trouble as the mathematics. Science and social studies texts are even more challenging. Children from low-income families that speak a language other than English have an even harder time. Unless the nation meets this problem head on, we will not close the achievement gap.18 At the preschool level, part of the resources might be used to substantially augment and extend local preschool and Head Start programs to give high-quality training and practice in oral language skills, vocabulary, and self-regulation using well-trained teachers, with the expectation that the changes would be extended to other students as well. At the kindergarten and fi rst-grade levels, the resources could support intensive training and coaching for teachers and special afterschool, weekend, and summer school
  14. 14. 244 Carrots, Sticks, and the Bully Pulpit programs focusing on student language and self-regulation skills. Programs to engage parents to help support the language and self-regulation training of their children would be important. As the programs progress at a local level, they would be expected to change as more and more knowledge is developed about effective practice. Student progress would be based on unobtrusive but reliable and valid measures given at the end of preschool, kindergarten, and fi rst grade. This component of the legislation would focus on improving oral language and self-regulation skills of children in preschool, kindergarten, and fi rst grade who have not yet developed them to the levels needed to achieve in school. I am not sure how best to do this. One way of starting would be a competition among the large urban and rural school districts that meet the requirements for the new Title I, Part B grants program. The reason for a competition would be to reward those districts that are most prepared to serve the students well. The districts could compete for grants to serve students across three cohorts—preschool, kindergarten, and fi rst grade cohorts. The overall target for the fi rst year would be 180,000 students at $3,000 per student—roughly $540 million. Over the next five years, the totals would increase to one million students per year (333,000 per cohort) costing $3 billion, and, if evaluation results were clearly positive, the program would be expanded to $7.5 billion to serve 1.5 million students (roughly 20 percent of the total population). The program would be authorized for ten years and then reauthorized if the results were positive. Eight percent of funds would be spent on local, district, and national evaluations that tracked progress with yearly metrics, reported every three years, and fed back information for program improvement. In addition, the National Academies of Sciences and the National Academy of Education would be jointly asked to establish a standing committee to keep track of the progress of the effort and to provide formative advice to the government and grant recipients on a yearly basis. If the evaluations show positive results, this program would pay for itself many times over within fifteen years. Title II: Implementing State Standards-Based Reform and Establishing Continuous Improvement Systems, Supporting Nongovernmental Expertise, and Creating Performance-Based Accountability Systems This title focuses on stimulating and supporting high-performance education systems in all states. The fi rst part combines the goals of implementing new standards-based reforms and of supporting continuous improvement
  15. 15. Rethinking ESEA 245 systems in all states, districts, and schools. These goals complement each other and are combined in one grant program. Part B builds expert capacity in nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to help states and districts carry out their reforms. Part C provides support for a performance-based accountability system for schools, districts, and states that focuses primarily on the soft power of transparency and the improvement of practice. Part A: Implementing common standards based reforms and continuous improvement systems. NAEP data indicate that achievement scores have grown substantially over the past fifteen years. This suggests that the current state standards-based reform systems have at least supported improvements in student achievement, even though they are often badly implemented and have mixed quality. Over this period of time, research and development about understanding organization effectiveness and improving teaching and learning has increased at a substantial pace. While there is still much to learn about how best to implement standards-based reform and continuous improvement systems, our new knowledge and the push for common new standards provide the nation right now with an extraordinary opportunity to accelerate the quality and equality of the education system. One goal of Part A is to provide resources to support states to fully and thoughtfully implement state standards-based reform, hopefully anchored by the new Common Core State Standards. Coherent and challenging standards-based systems provide structure for state and local agencies as they work and steadily improve to meet federal, state, and local goals. The Common Core standards effort led by the states is very promising. The high quality and coherence of the common standards and the strong possibility of aligned and challenging assessments with a mix of performance and short answer items is a good start toward a much more robust and effective standards-based system than we have now. In addition, the recent progress toward rational and useful science standards is promising. Over time, our nation can do the same for history, the arts, and foreign languages. A broadened curriculum that recognizes the importance of these content areas is a critical feature of an improved system. Finally, full implementation of this reform by a state would include a variety of aligned but different curricula that offer choices of pedagogy and a serious upgrading of the human resources system, including the teacher training institutions. To sustain trust, allow for variation in context; and to promote creative adaptation and a sense of responsibility, states should have substantial discretion in their strategies for implementing standards-based reforms. The new common standards would not be required, though all states would be
  16. 16. 246 Carrots, Sticks, and the Bully Pulpit required to publicly review their standards, curricula, and assessments to determine if they meet today’s and tomorrow’s requirements. This part would also provide support for the development of a culture of continuous improvement practice in state and local school systems. The challenge of implementing a new standards-based system using the common standards provides a ready platform for all states and districts to develop the capacity for implementing continuous improvement processes as standard practice. The arguments for bringing continuous improvement practice to all of our districts and states are straightforward. Our children will not learn well unless the adults in the system are also learning through collaboration with each other, strong professional development, ongoing and supported teacher networks, and the steady gathering and use of information about the quality of their practice. Many states and districts never advance beyond putting so-called aligned systems in place and talking about improvement. It is quite another thing to create the climate, policies, and practices that continuously support and improve the implementation of standardsbased reform throughout the entire system. Improving systems requires sustained practice as well as the capacity to make substantial changes when necessary—innovation, experimentation, and openness to the extraordinary opportunities that technology will bring to schooling must be part of the equation. The processes of continuous improvement and system learning must be embedded in every part of the system. Huge strides in this direction can be seen in well-run businesses (HP, GE, Google), successful national education systems (Singapore, Hong Kong, Finland), leading U.S. school districts (Long Beach, Atlanta, Ocean Grove, Austin), school model organizations (KIPP, Teach for America, Hi-Tech High, Success for All, America’s Choice), and states (Massachusetts, Minnesota). Steady, long-term leadership combined with smart and sensible policy management seems to be the cornerstones of these organizations. Finally, the substantial success that Massachusetts has had in improving NAEP scores over the past fifteen years and its high ranking in the 2007 International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) assessments are notable. In both math and science on the TIMSS assessments, Massachusetts placed in the top six, of roughly forty-five countries, in the fourth and eighth grades, including three scores in the top five. Over this period of time, Massachusetts has had high-quality standards and assessments and strong and committed leadership steadily focused on a process of improvement. The point here is that states do not need a radical makeover to become internationally competitive. Building a learning capacity, holding the
  17. 17. Rethinking ESEA 247 course, and steadily improving is not easy. It is not sexy. There is no magic bullet. It is hard, serious, important work. The federal strategy would be a soft monetary incentive (a state grant program) to implement the new standards-based reforms and a continuous improvement system and processes. There would be no mandated approaches and no regulations. States and districts would be required to create plans and metrics and to make them both public and easily available, fi rst for comment and improvement and second so that they public may easily understand them. The states and districts would also track and publicly report explicit measures of progress in their implementation of both the standards-based reforms and the continuous improvement processes. Plans would have to be updated yearly with changes based on the prior year’s experiences. Additionally, each state would be required to have an external review every three to five years to provide guidance about the progress of their reforms. The federal government would provide clear examples of strategies and processes that seem to have worked in U.S. cities and states and in other parts of the world. It would not disapprove or approve plans, reports, or data. For these purposes, federal funds would be distributed to states, with 85 percent delivered by the state to districts. The appropriations authority would provide $6 billion per year for eight years, then $4 billion, and $2 billion, with no money or authority after the tenth year. States would have the option of not taking the grants, which initially would be roughly $110 per student per year—not an amount that should dramatically alter significant policy calculations. The purpose of the choice would be to ensure that the states have bought into the reforms and strategies. The Department of Education would support and report immediately on receipt three national reviews by independent sources of the progress of these activities during the ten-year period. Part B: Supporting nongovernmental expertise. Most education governments’ (state and local) capacity to support the implementation of standards-based reform and of continuous improvement processes is very weak. There is some capacity to support organizational improvement and improved teaching and learning in existing NGOs, but this sector also is very lean. This part would stimulate and partially support the maintenance and development of NGOs and other service providers to provide appropriate expertise to states and local districts to help them implement the reforms and create effective continuous improvement systems. The purpose would be to strengthen existing organizations and start new ones.
  18. 18. 248 Carrots, Sticks, and the Bully Pulpit The mechanism would be a competition open to all organizations and agencies for resources to be used to provide necessary expert assistance to states and districts in their reform work. In the fi rst year, the appropriation would be $200 million for forty organizations for five-year grants. In the second year, another $200 million would support forty more organizations for five years. There would be no resources in future years. Organizations that receive awards would have to use other funds, particularly from state and local education agencies, to survive after their federal funds were fully used. Awards would specify that no federal funds could be spent to work with a district or state unless the district or state provided at least 25 percent of the costs as matching funds. Part C: Student performance accountability. This part provides support for state and local outcome accountability systems. The literature on performance accountability, the data on unintended consequences of the current federal accountability system, the NAEP data, and the sense of frustration and angst in the field provide convincing evidence that the NCLB accountability provisions should be substantially changed. The goal for this act is to support a coherent and vibrant standards-based system that is focused on the steady improvement of student achievement and attainment and adult learning. Trust and buy-in by the people doing the basic work of teaching is crucial. Alienated employees do not build and improve strong organizations. The balance between accountability and support should be weighted on the support side much more than it is now. The new system would use full transparency of student performance data and local and state plans and progress as its primary accountability mechanism. States and districts would be expected to pay careful attention to making the reporting very available and very easy to understand. The achievement data would be presented overall and disaggregated by student subgroups on the measures for each of the goals set out in this act. All metrics would be an average over two years in order to gain stability in the measures. The system would feature public and rapid reporting of student achievement on state assessments in at least four subject matter areas at selected grades, as well as attainment and gap closure metrics each year. Regular reports would specifically show progress toward a school’s, district’s, or state’s version of the goals set out in the preamble. Finally, the federal and state governments would publicly report their scores and explanatory information on NAEP, TIMSS, and the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) as accountability metrics. Schools would be expected to make use of the assessment and other data in two ways. The primary way would be to use the data to help teachers, in-
  19. 19. Rethinking ESEA 249 dividually and collectively, improve their work; even the best teachers can improve. This improvement feedback loop should be carried out as quickly as possible on receipt of data. The cornerstone of the system must be improvement. The data might also be used in the evaluations of individual teachers, but only very carefully. Until we have a much better understanding of the problems of value-added methodology set out by the National Research Council, the data on teacher effectiveness should only be used for formative purposes or to help corroborate conclusions reached from other data. Local districts would be required to use the data to identify and provide support and expertise for schools to improve. With scarce resources, districts should focus on those schools that fail to improve. States also would be required to report their efforts to support districts that show signs of not meeting their goals. If states and districts did not meet their goals over a three-year period, they would be required to provide a report to the public about what steps they are taking to improve their progress. Finally, states would be free to add other accountability provisions. The federal authorization for this effort would support state and local implementation and execution of the accountability systems required in this part. The federal government would provide $2 billion per year for this work, work that affects every school, teacher, and child in the system. States would have to evenly match their appropriation using state funds. The total is roughly $75 a student per year. Fifty percent of the funds would be distributed to the local districts to help support their implementation of assessments, other data gathering, and to develop and oversee constructive intervention strategy for schools that do not meet their targets. The remainder would be used by the states for administrative and district support services, which might include something like an inspectorate for helping districts meet state and federal requirements. Title III: Research, Development, and Innovation The third title would establish an effective applied research, development, and innovation effort focused on ways of achieving the goals of the act. Part A: Support NAEP, TIMSS, and PISA. Goal five challenges the nation and states to improve performance on NAEP, our national and state assessment, and two international assessments, TIMSS and PISA. This part of Title III provides funding for the administration, data gathering, analysis, and reporting for these assessments. NAEP provides an independent measure to assess national status and growth, for among-state and among-districts comparisons. TIMSS, an assessment that Massachusetts and Minnesota excelled on in 2007, provides
  20. 20. 250 Carrots, Sticks, and the Bully Pulpit a measure that is used by many nations and serves as a useful yardstick to assess progress for the United States and some states in mathematics and science relative to the rest of the world. PISA, another international assessment, is specifically designed to assess students’ capacity to solve new problems, to synthesize, and to be able to transfer knowledge and use it in new environments. That is why PISA is so important to the United States and why we should be particularly concerned that we do poorly on the test as compared with other nations. It is intended to be a measure of a student’s capacity to apply what some call “twenty-fi rst-century skills.” Part A would authorize the National Center for Educational Statistics to administer, score, interpret, and report on NAEP, TIMSS, and PISA on a regular schedule. The authority would include resources for all of the NAEP administrations and for TIMSS and PISA participation by the nation, states, and cities. The results of these assessments and studies of the nations should be fully integrated into the national and state reporting systems. The authorization for resources is in Part B of this title. Part B: Research, development, and innovation. Part B would establish an applied research, development, and evaluation program around the core questions and challenges of effectively reaching this act’s goals for student progress and gap closing. A significant part of the funds would be allocated to figure out how to use information technology to improve results for all students. Our understanding of how people learn and how to improve schools and teaching has grown over the past few decades, but not enough. While basic research continues to be necessary, we need to improve our ways of solving pressing problems in schools by applying research knowledge. This process has a lot in common with engineering, but it is more complex in education because the laws that give direction toward improvement in complex social and political situations are far more ephemeral and daunting than the laws of nature. For example, we need to know how to: 1. Convert a school district into a learning organization that deliberately and expertly practices continuous improvement 2. Ensure that all children entering kindergarten have the breadth of vocabulary, language skills, motivation, and self regulation necessary to succeed in school 3. Build curricula and design instructional methodologies that enable ELL students to develop strong skills in English as well as in their native language.
  21. 21. Rethinking ESEA 251 Research on the use of technology to improve educational outcomes is especially critical. In 2020 we will look back on 2011 and ask, “How could someone have imagined that technology would have little effect on education?” Technology is on its way to being a powerful tool in the hands of educators, parents, and students to accomplish ends in teaching and learning that are difficult for us now to imagine. We already have very effective programs for teaching algebra, and on the drawing boards are artificial intelligence tutors that will bring novice students of algebra or introductory biology to a superior level of learning in weeks rather than months. For most middle and secondary school subjects, there will be very high-quality courses available free on the Web for home or school. Soon teachers will have ready online access to powerful video examples of teaching based on the new common standards. The implications for improving the odds for students with special needs, for amplifying the learning for ELLs, for credit for schooling to be based on performance rather than seat time, and for providing experiences that enhance creativity and deepen understanding are extraordinary. Serious applied research, development, innovation, and evaluation will be needed to ensure that these new opportunities benefit all of our students. The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) is currently working toward research that provides information about good and smart practice on similar problems, but its pace is much too slow. Researchers need to feel the same urgency that parents and teachers feel when their children and students are struggling. The legislation would support applied research and development on the challenges of education practice that are addressed in Titles I and II of this legislation. One-third to one-half of the funding would be focused on effective uses of information technology. The legislation also would repeal the measures that forbid the Department of Education from creating curriculum. The appropriation for this entire Title (both Parts A and B) would be set at one-fifth of 1 percent of the annual U.S. (federal, state, and local) expenditures on education. It would supplement the IES, Education ARPA, and Innovation funds to increase the level for research and development for our largest industry to just a little under one-half of 1 percent of annual expenditures of the entire K–12 system, far less than is allocated to research for other national priorities. CONCLUSION I would be shocked if Washington even considers such a proposal as this. After all, it does not reflect the realities of politics. It does, however, suggest
  22. 22. 252 Carrots, Sticks, and the Bully Pulpit a set of legislative strategies that are based largely on evidence and that focus entirely on improving the quality of our education system and closing the gaps between rich and poor, minority and majority, and in student achievement and attainment. It points directly at the future, which will be determined by how well our young, often poor, and often English language learners succeed in school, and to the important role that technology will hold over the next decade. I thank Eugenia Kemble, Rick Hess, Daniel Lautzenheiser, Joanne Weiss, and Alan Ginsburg for careful readings of earlier drafts and for their thoughtful suggestions. Very special thanks go to Brenda Turnbull and Jessica Levin. Brenda was a primary author of the administration’s proposal for the 1978 ESEA amendments, and Jessica played a similar role for the 1994 amendments. I thank them both for their advice, wisdom, and attention to detail to make this a better essay and for all of the work they have done to improve ESEA over the years. I am responsible for errors, misunderstandings, and odd perspectives in this paper. I also thank the Spencer Foundation and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching for their support.

×