Monday, September 15, 2008

Panel Discussion Three: A Matter of Will…Can We Sustain Our Commitment to Excellence for All Children?

Despite broad support for taking action to improve our schools, there has been a significant push back against the core elements of effective reform built on accountability for results, transparency on performance and high expectations for every child. Influential educational leaders will discuss why the broad-based support for these reform principles at the national and state level has been difficult to translate into sustained buy-in at the local level for making the tough decisions necessary to improve educational effectiveness. NCLB passed with overwhelming bi-partisan support six years ago. What have we learned since the law began our path toward a national commitment to accountability for improving the academic performance of all children?

To view the complete discussion, go to

* Moderator: Ron Brownstein, Atlantic Monthly
* Kati Haycock, President, The Education Trust
* John Deasy, Superintendent, Prince George’s County Schools (MD)
* Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers
* Beverly Hall, Superintendent, Atlanta Public Schools

Excerpts from the discussion:

Kati Haycock:
“As we visit with teachers around the country, it is painfully obvious that we haven't gotten the support part right.”

“NCLB has not changed the fact that we're assigning our weakest teachers to the neediest students. There are still high inequities in the funding for school districts. Looking at Dayton public school funding last week, there was about $450,000 funding difference between a low-performing school and a higher-performing one across town.”

“Having spoken with Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill, I am confident that Congress is going to stick with the core principles of NCLB.”

John Deasy:
“Students and parents must develop a better understanding what is vigorous high performance. NCLB provoked schools to engage parents. We need to do a better job of helping parents understand of what high-performing science, math, etc., looks like.”

“The accountability provision of NCLB has changed focus from the compliance to performance.”

“If performance does not improve, we should have the option to ask that teacher to leave our system.”

“Professional development allows faculty to clearly master practices and bring these back to the classroom. I don't know of many Fortune 500 companies that would still exist with just one percent of their budget being R&D.”

“We need an accountability system that holds the next president accountable for improvement.”

“Must re-think HR, re-think resources, re-think systemic changes.”

Randi Weingarten:
“We've learned that focus matters, accountability matters, transparency matters. What we need now is a shared definition of standards.”

“When we see great schools, we see a real investment in teachers in those schools.”

“Focusing on kids, standards, measurements are essential. This urgency is not about incremental growth. It has to be about helping all kids.”

“There needs to be consensus on an accountability system that is fair to all. There needs to transparency between state data. We need to have standards and accountability but this needs to be a shared responsibility.”

“There is no one I know who is not committed to fair accountability. Obama’s speech last week went beyond NCLB. The national discussion is just concentrating on NCLB. How do you help bring parents into the discussion in poor neighborhoods? How do you ensure health care for all children?”

Beverly Hall:
“Leadership is as important as is teacher quality.”

“We told schools if they met accountability targets, everyone gets rewarded, which improves their practice. One of the things that NCLB did is allow schools to know what they need to do because of data.”

“We told our people to continue focusing on teaching well. We try to give our teachers quality teaching development.”

“You really need to have support on the ground -- have coaches working with teachers. It's a resource issue to do this well.”

“Need other ways to test ELL and special needs children. We want accountability for these children but we need flexibility. I believe we need national standards. I volunteered for the NAEP assessment because I wanted verification that children are learning. Higher Teacher quality is very important.”

“It is a challenge to replicate successful programs. A lot of research has been done on what makes schools effective but the issue is replicating this.”

1 comment:

Max said...

Beverly Hall said: “We told schools if they met accountability targets, everyone gets rewarded, which improves their practice. One of the things that NCLB did is allow schools to know what they need to do because of data.”

That's great in theory but in practice it just makes teachers teach to the test - not helpful to improving education....

how can we make the tests reward critical thinking skills and real teaching, rather than just rote memorization?