What's Next for Education Reform?
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Chamber Unveils Principles
A bipartisan group of House lawmakers has begun working to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)--also known as No Child Left Behind--and the Chamber is weighing in with calls for improved accountability and transparency.
"No Child Left Behind was an important first step in identifying the achievement gaps among different student groups and in advancing education reforms to help schools improve academic achievement," says Arthur Rothkopf, Chamber senior vice president and counselor to the Chamber president. "Now we have an opportunity to take the next steps toward our goal of ensuring that all students graduate from high school prepared for postsecondary education or the workforce."
The Chamber, in partnership with the Business Roundtable, leads the Business Coalition for Student Achievement (BCSA), which insists that reauthorization legislation accomplish the following objectives:
- Establish internationally benchmarked standards and assessments to reflect readiness for college, the workplace, and international competition. Annual student assessments in science should be added to existing math and reading assessments, and progress measurements should reflect year-to-year growth in academic achievement tied to specific goals.
- Hold all schools accountable while putting a laser-like focus on transforming the 2,000 high schools with dropout rates greater than 40%.
- Measure and reward teacher and administrator success and implement policies and practices to remove ineffective educators fairly and efficiently.
- Foster a client-centered approach for districts and schools that includes honest and easy-to-understand report cards, timely information for parents and students about tutoring and school choice, and greater involvement by parents, community, and businesses.
- Develop fully functional statewide data systems that can be used to improve teacher effectiveness and support student instruction.
- Encourage innovation, including after school and summer school programs for at-risk students, online learning tools, charter schools, and opportunities for students to enroll in advanced coursework, early-college high schools, or dual enrollment programs.
- Establish a dedicated strategy and funding stream to improve STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education.
The Obama administration is reaching out to the Chamber and other business groups to achieve shared education goals. During a March 1 speech at Chamber headquarters, the president pledged to address the nation's high school dropout rate. Education Secretary Arne Duncan delivered a similar message at a Chamber board meeting in February. The business community also welcomed the administration's first-of-its-kind Race to the Top competitive grants program, in which governors must make assurances regarding data systems, teacher effectiveness, and low-performing schools to become eligible to receive grants and stimulus funds.
Visit www.biz4achievement.org to learn more or to join the coalition.