*	A new test should be given in high school to assess students'
readiness to do college-level work or enter the job market. 



Commission urges tracking of teacher progress

WASHINGTON (AP) -- An updated No Child Left Behind law should track the
progress of teachers as well as students, a special commission said Tuesday.

The private commission said schools should be required to measure how well
teachers are doing at raising student test scores -- one of 75
recommendations in a report meant to guide Congress as it prepares to
rewrite the 5-year-old law this year. The idea came under immediate attack
from the nation's largest teachers union.

Teachers should be evaluated annually based on progress in the test scores
of their students, the panel said. Reviews by colleagues or school
principals also would be part of the equation for determining teacher

If a teacher has trouble showing student progress or getting good reviews
after two years, that teacher would begin to get professional development.
If that doesn't lead to a turnaround, then after seven years the teacher
would be prevented from teaching in a school that receives federal poverty

The current law, which requires testing in reading and math in grades three
through eight and once in high school, does not measure the effectiveness of
individual teachers. It does require teachers to be certified, have a
bachelor's degree and knowledge of their subjects.

"We believe that teachers should have the opportunity to demonstrate their
effectiveness in the classroom," former Georgia Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes
said at a news conference. He and Republican Tommy Thompson, a former
governor of Wisconsin, led the commission set up by the Aspen Institute, a
nonpartisan think tank.

But Joel Packer, a lobbyist for the National Education Association, the
largest teachers union, called the idea ill-conceived.

He said it would further encourage teachers to "teach to a test," a common
complaint levied against the law, rather than ensuring students receive a
deep understanding of the subjects taught.

Schools currently must meet yearly progress goals under No Child Left
Behind. If schools miss those marks, they can be labeled as needing
improvement and may face consequences.

However, the report calls the current system of measuring progress "a fairly
blunt instrument" and recommended giving schools credit for making strides,
even if they fall short of a specific goal.

The report also recommends closing a loophole under the law that has allowed
states to set aside the scores of specific groups of students.

States have a lot of flexibility in determining how large those set-aside
scores should be, and an Associated Press review last year found that nearly
2 million students were not being counted when schools reported yearly
progress by racial groups.

The commission also is calling for changes in the way some special education
students are assessed. Currently about 10 percent of students are given
alternate tests and measured against benchmarks that are different from
those used to assess general education students.

The report recommends allowing an additional 10 percent of special education
students to also be judged against different benchmarks.

The commission's report also said:

*	Schools should be judged by how well students do on science tests,
as well as math and reading exams. 
*	A new test should be given in high school to assess students'
readiness to do college-level work or enter the job market. 
*	The federal government should create national standards and national
tests and create an incentive for states to use those. 

The commission members were joined at the news conference by key lawmakers,
including Massachusetts Democrat Edward Kennedy, who chairs the Senate
committee expected to rewrite the education law.

"Many of their recommendations are going to see life," Kennedy said of the

Copyright 2007 The Associated <>
Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast,
rewritten, or redistributed.






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