Two weeks ago, when the House Education and the Workforce committee marked-up two major ESEA reauthorization bills, Democrats and their allies screamed bloody murder. Ranking member (and former chairman) George Miller called the bills “radical” and “highly partisan” and said they would “turn the clock back decades on equity and accountability.” A coalition of civil rights, education reform, and business groupssaid they amounted to a “rollback” of No Child Left Behind.

Miller put forward his own bills, which most of the self-same groups quickly endorsed, and which, Millerargues, “eliminates inflexible and outdated provisions of No Child Left Behind and requires states and [districts] to adopt strong but flexible and achievable standards, assessments, and accountability reforms.”

So let’s see how Miller and company do at “eliminating inflexible and outdated provisions of NCLB” and requiring “strong but flexible” accountability systems. The package…

1. Requires states to expect “all” students to reach college and career readiness eventually. (Didn’t we learn from NCLB that calling for “universal proficiency” merely pushes states to lower the bar?)

2. Tightens the screws on NCLB’s “subgroup accountability,” requiring schools to hit targets on dozens of indicators in order to avoid stigmas and sanctions. (Why not let states develop new ways to ensure that vulnerable kids don’t get overlooked—but without all the complexity?)

3. Makes failure even more likely by adding student growth and graduation rates to the mix (along with proficiency rates).

Continue reading Michael Petrilli…

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