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NCLB Reauthorization Needs Evidence-Based Revisions

Learning Point Associates Senior Advisor Cautions Congress Against
Making Sweeping Changes

August 30, 2006

CHICAGO—In testimony before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Education Reform Monday, Learning Point Associates Senior Advisor and former Northbrook, Illinois, School Superintendent Paul Kimmelman, Ed.D., cautioned against making sweeping changes to the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. "Rather than make major changes to the law, be patient and make small changes based on logical, evidence-based recommendations," Dr. Kimmelman told the panel led by U.S. Representative Judy Biggert (R-Illinois).

The field hearing in Chicago is one of a series being conducted by the subcommittee, which also includes U.S. Representatives Danny Davis (D-Illinois) and Bobby Scott (D-Virginia). Both were in attendance at the Chicago hearing. According to Biggert, the hearings are vital as the committee tries to gain a sense of how the law is working across the nation. "It appears that No Child Left Behind is working to improve student achievement and reduce the achievement gap between disadvantaged students and their fortunate peers," Biggert told the subcommittee.

Dr. Kimmelman testified that although the process is slow, there is evidence that progress is being made in schools and districts nationwide on two fronts—using appropriate data to inform decision making and recognizing the need for equitable distribution of highly qualified teachers in core subject areas. "As far as data and highly qualified teachers are concerned, I see the glass as half full," he said.

Dr. Kimmelman did propose some changes in the law, including alternate ways to assess adequate yearly progress and how to define teachers as "highly qualified." As Congress prepares to reauthorize NCLB in 2007, he said revisions need to be made to the law or more schools will be in danger of not meeting federal standards. "There could be a significantly large percentage of schools not making adequate yearly progress that are for the most part good and effective schools," he said. Kimmelman recommended that Congress consider evidence-based suggestions to determine not only what defines a highly qualified teacher, but what might be considered effective teaching as well.

By holding schools accountable and making reasonable modifications to NCLB during the reauthorization, Dr. Kimmelman said the nation might not achieve the intended goals by 2012 but will likely have made significant progress toward them. He concluded, "Congress should stay the course on its policy process to transform American schools and ensure a quality education for every child."

About Learning Point Associates
Learning Point Associates is a nonprofit educational organization with more than 20 years of direct experience working with and for educators and policymakers to transform education systems and student learning. Our vision is an education system that works for all learners, and our mission is to deliver the knowledge, strategies, and results to help educators and policymakers make research-based decisions that produce sustained improvement.

Learning Point Associates manages a diversified portfolio of work ranging from direct consulting assignments to major federal contracts and grants. Our professional staff of 150 continues to grow as our work expands both nationally and internationally with offices in Naperville, Illinois; Chicago; and Washington, D.C. Since 1984, Learning Point Associates has operated the regional educational laboratory serving the Midwest—initially known as the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory® (NCREL®) and now known as REL Midwest.

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