WASHINGTON, D.C. | February 8, 2012 -
Reform-minded governors in states like New Jersey, South Dakota, and Virginia are using this year’s “state of the state” speeches to call for much-needed K-12 education reform that supports effective state and local initiatives.
House Education and the Workforce Committee Republicans have long recognized the progress state and local officials have had implementing innovative reforms that hold schools accountable for student achievement, support excellent teachers, and provide greater choices for parents. To ensure this local innovation continues, committee Republicans will soon introduce the Student Success Act and the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act.
Many education officials agree the federal accountability system (Adequate Yearly Progress or AYP) fails to effectively gauge school and student performance. Instead of forcing a narrow and inflexible system on states and school districts, the federal government should encourage state and local officials to create new approaches for measuring student achievement and engaging parents and community members in the performance of schools.
In Florida, for example, education officials championed groundbreaking reforms to establish the “A-Plus” accountability system to more effectively measure school quality. This system awards Florida schools a letter grade based on how they measure up against state performance standards, which provides teachers, principals, and parents with data reflective of the specific challenges and successes of their schools.
The Student Success Act will return responsibility for student achievement to the local level by eliminating the antiquated AYP system and instead require states to establish their own accountability systems with tailored academic standards, assessments, and school improvement strategies.
Identifying and Retaining Effective Teachers
The “Highly Qualified Teacher” requirements under No Child Left Behind place too much emphasis on a teacher’s credentials and tenure, and pay little attention to student success.
In an effort to attract more effective teachers to the classroom, education officials in states and school districts are adopting commonsense approaches, such as performance pay and alternative paths to classroom certification. In Denver, state and local leaders instituted a teacher evaluation system based on multiple metrics, including peer assessments and student data. The Hillsborough County, Florida, school district awards top educators performance pay based on their performance and academic success of their students.
The Student Success Act and the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act build on these local initiatives by repealing the “Highly Qualified Teacher” requirements and directing states and districts to develop teacher evaluation systems based on multiple measurements, including student performance.
Supporting Parental Engagement
Parents playing an active role in their child’s education is absolutely critical to a student’s success. Forty-one states and the District of Columbia established laws to support public charter schools, allowing parents increased education options for their children. Additionally, many state legislatures are taking up “parent trigger” laws, allowing parents with children in under-performing schools to choose their school turnaround model, including reopening a failing school as a charter school. These types of laws put decisions directly in the hands of parents who understand the needs of children and communities.
Last year, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Empowering Parents through Quality Charter Schools Act to support the development of high-performing charter schools. Building on this success, the new legislative package introduced by committee Republicans will encourage parental involvement through increased school choice and providing access to valuable information about local school quality.
For more information on the House Education and the Workforce Committee’s efforts to reform K-12 education, or to read draft summaries of the Student Success Act and the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act, visit www.edworkforce.house.gov.
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