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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  January 23, 2015 12:00pm-2:01pm EST

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you get an a for sticking to five minutes to help the students will see. we will see if the senators do as well when our time comes. i will begin a third of questions. i will take my five minutes. ..
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>> let me me before you keep thinking about your answer to do something else. to frame the question we are talking about questioning and accountability and that goes off into education and i have to refresh myself with 15 minutes even though i've been fooling about it for years. the federal government under no child left behind requires 17 standardized tests today to seven tests, seven in reading. grade three through eight and once in high school. and then three tests in since i intend once in grades three through five and six through nine and once in high school there are 17 tests that must be used by the law as a primary means of determining the academic performance of the state.
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florida reported that. there are 183 state and local tests in addition to the 17 federal tests and when this report they start to make a spotlight on the test is that maybe that is too many tests and they started getting fewer tests. so if we are talking about what kind of tests. it's whether whether it is the federal 17 test or whether it is all the state and local tests.
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the most difficult issue we have to figure out if the testing and accountability issues. the accountability is what are the consequences. to the states decide that here or there and i think i hear you saying why should you keep the 17 tests why should the states design the accountability systems.
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the studies that have been conducted like the ones that you referenced in the state of florida do suggest double testing and the time is not devoted to the 17 federally mandated exams. it is in the attempt to prepare themselves for the federally mandated annual exams precisely because those exams carry so much weight with respect to how much the schools are going to be treated by the accountability system. that accountability system sets up unrealistic expectations in the achievement. those expectations are most challenging for the schools that serve students that face disadvantage. >> in the last few remaining seconds, does new hampshire and colorado require a lot of extra tests in addition to the 17 federal tests or do you and your local school district require
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the tests as a result? >> in new hampshire we just require the basic federal expectation of the 17 that the 17 tests and also we have alternative assessments for students with disabilities as well as students of english language learners. we have adopted others in colorado and i and superintendents are urging the state not require those additional tests on the annual testing in third through tenth grade and butter is the ann. >> mr. henderson, since no child left behind passed in 2001 we have seen achievement gaps narrow for black and latino students in reading and math according to data and the
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dropout rate. i wanted you talk about what you saw the role in the positions in narrowing the achievement gaps and increasing the graduation rate. >> it's a very important question. thanks for asking it. we have seen the federal government mandated requirements under no child left behind and helped push greater accountability on the part of the state to address the particular needs of poor students and often students of color, students with disabilities. in the absence of the standards we fear that there will be a rollback of requirements that are otherwise producing the positive results that you have identified. we have seen for example in the states that were given waivers under the previous law in many instances have allowed those state systems to avoid the kind
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of meaningful accountability that actually drives the change that you've talked about. senator alexander you mentioned of course the proliferation of the states at the local level and that may well be true but i think the federal requirements that are in place have been selling for tendon producing the kind of high school and could hear the graduation rates that are really important. when i started school with brown v. board of education was first decided. i can assure you that here in washington, d.c., there was a tremendous absence of the kind of consistent standards that help to produce the kind of change that we have seen and that senator murray has cited and the absence of the standards. i am convinced that there will be the use of the title i who do not otherwise qualified candidates to back from the federal government's commitment
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to ensure a positive result the senator cited so it makes a difference. >> what improvements would you recommend as we reauthorize to make progress to close the achievement gap? >> certainly do have many schools that lack the kind of financial equity and commitment to students that either the state constitution requires or that common sense for the purpose of producing positive results would require. i cite the center of kansas but now has a supreme court decision of course indicating the state's funding of the schools as unconstitutional by kansas's own constitutional requirement and the result has been a significant lack of compliance on the part of the state and its ability to educate its students. senator casey, i extend the same thing in pennsylvania where the failure of the previous governor to invest in resources and to address the problem and the shortcoming in the funding of schools has been significant say
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in my judgment, the standards help to drive the kind of investments that states must make in their educational system to ensure that the students do meet the challenges of today and are prepared to meet the challenges of tomorrow. but i would hope is that there would be restrictions on the casual use of the title i funding to the students that are not eligible for title i and two require that the funds be used precisely for what they were intended and that is to help the students. >> thank you. you mentioned that the classroom is apparently watching you and his papers in their background learning style and performance to be held in high quality assessments to high quality assessments help you cater to your students beat? >> in my school we have designed a fairly robust system to help us get better so we designed tasks that are accessible to a range of learners but then allow the range of performances. the service includes something
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like when we were studying the declaration of independence earlier i gave students attempted readings that some would be accessible to all students and then they had to write an argument about what the declaration of independence really means so that is a task that even somebody reading on a fourth-grade level can't say something intelligent about. but my students who are doing better work now than i did are able to approach the task in a really sophisticated way that the but the key thing is how we use that information to inform what happens in our classrooms and we used to inform how we professionally developed our teachers and then we judge ourselves based on how students are doing and similar tasks later in the year. so we are trying and measuring growth so that we are not just happy with some kids making progress. we are looking at all of our students even the ones doing amazingly well, and ensuring that we are continuing to push that as well as the students who
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are struggling. >> thank you very much. >> senator collins. >> thank you mr. chairman. first is to chairman and ranking member senator murray, let me tell you what a pleasure it is to return to this committee after an absence of many years. some people would say i was here when we crafted no child left behind but remember i was very young then. [laughter] in 2005, the former senator olympia snowe and i in response to a lot of concerns about the law put together a task force to evaluate the impact and we have parents, teachers, educational specialists, superintendents school board members, so it was
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a broad group and the task force identified several unintended consequences of the wall's requirement for the annual test. they included increased tests first begins to the students best interpretation of the meaning of the schools classified as failing when they didn't make adequate process and the scapegoat of certain subgroups like those in special education and english language learner populations our task force concludes that states needed greater flexibility and they recommended allowing the states to the measure student progress over grade spans that have been mentioned by some of the witnesses today and track student growth over time.
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as we know the current measures are done great by grade is in chile comparing this year's fourth graders with last year's fourth graders. the approach that was recommended by our task force known as the greatest and testing essentially looking at the same students and seeing whether they have progressed which intrigues me and before the no child left behind law was passed that was the approach that was used and it allowed me to track the progress of individual students and gave teachers greater flexibility. my question to each of you and some of you touched on this dvd that giving states the flexibility to choose the greatest and testing which is
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used now for science would help resolve the concerns about over testing that have been expressed, or would the result be that we decrease accountability? and if i could start and go straight across. >> i think that it would be very difficult under the grade spans testing regime to develop a fair system of accountability because actually the greatest and testing it becomes more difficult to look at the progress individual students make over time. you're looking at the performance at a single point in time and that the endpoint of their time in a given grade the configuration elementary, middle or high school and at that point you are focused on the level at which they are performing which as i said is heavily driven by influence by factors outside of the schools controlled.
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those systems in the petting into putting a punishing effect on the schools performing and shielding and accurate information about the school's effectiveness. >> i would add that we need consistency and we need to make sure every student and parent receives annual information on how their child is performing academically. we do not want to go back to a system where parents have to guess how their student is doing, are they meeting academic and other goals and whether the school is working to improve outcomes for all students. i would point you to some of the research that shows a year of an effective learning occurs for a student and there's lots of reasons why that could have been but students fall behind and the growth is in p. did in the successive years. i think the more we keep track of students the better off
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those students are going to be end of and the better off their parents are going to be in terms of their expectations. >> i would agree with you senator, your basic premise on the importance of growth and measuring the same students as they grow from one year to the next because that is what is relevant. it's not how they stood against last year's fourth grade but it's how did those students do from one year to the next. you do need annual measurement in order to see that growth from one year to another because to measure how they did in fifth grade and eighth grade there is so much to make that worthwhile and i would say if you are a year ahead of grade level you don't want to be told they are the standard, they might have lost an entire year of learning and you want to see how much growth did have high achieving students make and likewise those
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students need to catch up and to say there's not a standard, how much have they grown how close have they gotten and are they on a church after he and a short period of time to get back on track to be ready to graduate so we do think that without annual measurement you simply can't measure growth in a meaningful way. >> i know i'm over my time. could i have the rest respond for the record? >> i appreciate you saying that because every senator uses four and a half minutes and is what do you all think, while we would be here all afternoon. but it's been done before right? that we want to know what you think. so yes please send us your thoughts but i would like to invite the other three witnesses. can you get the give the same
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answer and defense appointed peter? >> i will be very brief. i associate myself with my colleagues have already spoken about the importance of annual assessments as a way of determining progress but i would also mention there are collateral factors that affect the performance of students that we haven't talked about. obviously poverty is a huge issue for the students under those circumstances. we also have teachers that are misaligned with their ability. we need teachers that are well trained to go to schools that most need their services and assistance and there are other factors that obviously affect performance including school discipline that often runs amok in terms of the interest of students so i would like to amplify that and i will submit additional comments. >> this is assuming the tests are able to measure what they purport to measure and i want to argue that teachers assess every
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day in multiple ways and standardized assessments that you speak of can only measure right or wrong type of questions and answers we want our students to be able to solve are much more complex for people to quantify it i think is difficult. another point is that in new york state at least they changed from year to year which makes them todd and invalid. >> i agree what we need to be focused on his growth in relation to where they are supposed to be and where the student is compared to where they were. the thing i want to be careful about is that it is the learning and driving the assessment instead of the accountability driving the assessment. i think we do need to assess
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regularly our kids every day and i do think that parents need information about how students are doing from year to year. i don't think the federal or state government needs accountability attached so those should be used to import the practice and if we do need to have the federal and state accountability based on some sort of an assessment, let's have that be as small and little as possible. >> i am looking forward to working with you and the ranking member on the committee this year. the federal government provides billions of dollars every year to the states to state to support public education and its a lot of money. so i think we should start with the accountability of the states that take this money. if the states are going to get federal tax dollars to improve public education systems then we need to make sure those dollars are not being wasted but that the air being used to
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improve education. one of the reasons republicans and democrats came together to pass no child left behind in the first place was because the federal government has gotten really good at shoveling tax dollars out the door but not very good at improving student achievement. there are a lot of problems with no child left behind but according to the most recent national assessment of education progress over the past 12 years, both reading and math performance across the country has risen for all groups of students. poor children, while the children minority, they are all doing better. while we all agree that there need to be changes, we need some basic accountability on the part of the states to make sure that these billions of dollars of tax money are actually buying a better education for our children. so you have reviewed the republican draft proposal for
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reforming no child left behind. are you confident that the republican draft proposal would end sure that the states who take the federal dollars would be held accountable for improving the student achievement. >> we are speaking to details in the draft. i disagree both to the taxpayer and educator that accountability is important very important and began again accountability not into believing or the punishment sends that accountability in the sense of needing to make change. when schools are failing and kids are not making the progress they need to and they are not graduating, there has to be accountability to make change and that change is difficult. it's politically controversial it's messy, there is resistance but it's a central that the change happens to close the achievement gaps and to give our kids the opportunities they
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deserve so i do believe it is important in our system in denver looks at student growth and to segregated data and also important things like graduation rates, care and satisfaction multiple measures. i know people have spoken about the importance of multiple measures that i agree with. but we do need to be accountable and kids are not learning to make change. >> as i read the draft proposal the state would have to submit a plan with a bunch of promises with no proof that the promises are ever kept. and the department of education would lose any meaningful tools to make sure that the state actually follows through. he worked hard to make sure that the children that faced the greatest hurdles have educational opportunities. do you see anything in this proposal that would make sure that the states that take this money actually end up helping
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the kids who need it the most? >> unfortunately i do not. i think the bill would allow the states to repurpose the title i funding to serve otherwise ineligible students and without any measurable accountability to ensure that students are most in need get the support and resources for the most deserve. interestingly enough your point about the taxpayer accountability was reinforced in the last several days by the george w. bush institute which issued a report under the authorship of margaret spellings that talks about the importance of annual accountability ensuring that the dollars in tax dollars indeed are well spent. from the standpoint of those that are concerned about the services provided, we think that when you allow the states to weaken the standards coming and we have committee and we have seen again how the states have used the waivers to create a de facto we are deeply concerned that the interest of every
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student but the students we most represent what is the adequately service. >> i understand the need for flexibility but if the only principle here is that the states can do whatever they want, then they should raise their own taxes to pay for it. throwing federal dollars that the state with no accountability for the states for how they spend taxpayer money is not what we were sent here to do. thank you mr. chairman. >> i didn't welcome senator collins to the committee which i should. we are delighted to have her back. she and senator cassidy are the only two new members this year. senator robert? >> i would observe that we flipped the seating arrangement here.
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you can see that the majority is. [laughter] but basically, i observed that the minority is to the right which is a little bit confusing and we are to your left which is seldom a. >> i would like to concentrate on the teachers. thank you for your statements. years ago we be for senator collins i was a teacher for three years. i worry about the standard deviation in defining event for finally have a meaningful dialogue and i have no idea how i could have done what you are doing right now with teaching x.
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number of months the way you want to teach and seeing resolve and then one month being quote a dumb teacher. and i think that we pointed out the mindless test preparation. thank you for your viewpoint and mr. chairman thank you for holding the hearing on testing and accountability and i'm pleased we are looking into this issue and i want to let everyone know the witnesses and thank you all for coming. this is working draft. this isn't set in stone so that's why we have you here. this is the republican or democrat view, bipartisan view and it is a work so that should be emphasized. i'm concerned about recent administration efforts. there are a lot of strings attached to the waivers. they are only granted to the states that agree to implement the preferred education process.
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kansas created a commission named by the way the governor and state legislature all handled that issue with the court before and i'm sure they will do it again. but at any rate we created the commission to develop and implement teacher and principal evaluations. it has been a comprehensive approach to design a robust evaluation system dot department of education i believe it's going beyond the statute to force the adoption of policies. back in august of last year they agreed that the department of education prescriptive requirements they were informed that the flexibility request was approved and they would no longer be ready to be labeled a high risk. that is a pattern we've seen nationwide and it's clear to me that the administration has tried to implement common core and i introduced the local level
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my legislation would forbid them from intervening in the state standards and correct assessments would be used for mandates, grants or any form of manipulation. i appreciate the chairman drafted is going in the right direction in reducing the federal footprint but still providing accountability and i look forward to working with the chairman to include my language in the final draft. i just don't think washington is doing what is best for the students that they serve and my main objective for renewing is to make commonsense changes to simplify the ball and make it more flexible without sacrificing any accountability. the question that i have basically used as the continued reliance on annual testing strike the right balance or what is the most effective version of accountability that still
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ensures the education for all as well as the fiscal stewardship. now i've done what the chairman said i would do but talk before. but i would like to ask a statement that they would address the question. >> i definitely see the role of assessments in a larger level but revealing that the state level i do feel the federal role in addressing the concerns is to ensure that the states are using the tax dollars appropriately for public education. it has not happened in our state. we have not been held accountable to those federal tax dollars.
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we need to remove high-stakes from thosekodd ├Ájik assessments. we then need to limit accountability through the use of grade span or representational sampling smile appreciate that. thank you, mr. chairman. >> lazar gets the award for succinctness. senator bennet will be next and senator scott if he is here. senator franken.
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let's go to senator bennet. we'll see who is here after that. >> thank you mr. chairman. i hope that wasn't as reluctant as it sounded. i, i read last week, others in the committee i'm sure did as well for the first time in the country's history a majority of our public schoolchildren in our country are poor enough they qualify for free and reduced lunch. that is a shameful situation that we find ourselves in and when no child left behind was passed we couldn't say. that the majority of our children weren't that poor. they are today. and in my view that's why this discussion is so important because the attempt at no child left behind was to create a system of accountability disaggragated data and showed us how kid were performing by income and by also their ethnicity and it has demonstrated the huge
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achievement gap that exists in this country and all of us have different policy issues that we focus on but, in my mind it you want to cure this problem, of poverty, in our country the way to do that is by making sure people can read when they're in the first grade. that is the most important thing that we can do. and senator collins made an excellent point i thought earlier which was, no child left behind really asked and answered the wrong question, how did this year's fourth graders do compared to last year's fourth graders? it asked the wrong question and irrelevant question if you're a fourth-grader becoming a fifth grader. there was high-stakes accountability tied to that that meant states and local school districts and schools were responding to the wrong question by attempting to make changes, which in the end didn't do much more for our kids. the field has moved well beyond that. the people out in our
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communities and across the country have moved well beyond that. we're now asking and answering relevant questions rather than irrelevant questions, partly because of waivers we've been able to get, i wonder superintendent, whether you could describe for committee how you have used student growth measures to drive change in the school district? how is it informed the district's policies with respect to choice and, and i think we would benefit from understanding that. because this is bigger than just what is happening in a single classroom someplace. i guess also if you could hit the important distinct between growth and status for the committee. >> thank you. i think that is the fundamental question. the former law used to just look at the percentage of kids proficient at grade level and as professor west mentioned that could more likely predict where it could start than how much they're learning in school.
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so what we moved looking at growth, how much progress did a student make from one year to the next. that is equally important for high-achieving students as low-achieving students. when you measure at proficiency, whether at grade level, you're ignoring kid well above and ignoring kid well below because unlikely their status will not change from the one year to the next. you want to see the growth and how much they're learning because the annual nature of assessments are so important. we do look first and foremost for growth because for example, we used to have schools where the students were relatively high status but their growth was low and they coasted. look x-percent of our kids are at great level congratulate us. kids were not doing that well. they were going into the schools doing well but they were stagnating or slowing down. when we begin to measure growth and disaggregate growth based on
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race ethnicity, students with disabilities it has shown a real light how kid were actually doing. the important thing was not just to shine a light but to say what will we do differently. that is accountability. what are we going to change to see more growth. i also think growth data absolutely essential for parents as well. parents want to see how much their student is going to grow. parents of course think the first thing they should do look at schools, visit schools, visit classrooms. see if they have the kind of teaching of the classrooms the kind miss lee and mr. lesar talk about, wonderfully teaching around critical thinking. important for parents to seat growth. we're very transparent about that and that is published. particularly when you're in a district with where parents do have choice where you have, charter schools and district-run schools it is extraordinarily important that the community and parent get information how much kid are going. but again, if you have a system,
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says x-percent of kids are proficient, you set up a set of essentially moral hazard a disincentive to take kid who are lower-performing because that will show x-percent that are not at standard but when you look at growth you're equally then have that obligation and incentives to serve all kid and serve all kid well. so therefore particularly in an era of choice, and accountability, as for example a charters we have to make decisions which charters to authorize, which charters to close of the we welcomed high-performing charters. we have closed more low-performing charters in denver than rest of the state has combined. that really helped us to, to encourage our growth as a district is again really to focus on the growth that schools are making from year to year and make sure that parents have that information about their kids and their schools. >> i'm out of time. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you very much. senator burr.
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>> thank you, mr. chairman and thank you all for being here sharing your knowledge and suggestions with us. i have got to admit senator warren stimulated something in my mind because i agree with her. federal tax money should be held accountable. if we said to a state, okay we're not going to take your tax money for education. we're going to let you keep it, and you figure out you fund education. first question i thought of was, how many states would take us up on that? federal government gets out of my way i get to decide how it's done. and really the important question that came to my mind was, how would they do it differently than they do it today if in fact we got out of the way but we didn't penalize them financially. we put the burden on them? so i throw that out to you just as a thought to go through. here's my question and extremely
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simple, and i will start at this end with dr. west and i will lend with mr. lazar. a more simplified question than what senator collins asked. my kids as adults never tested well. it is probably genetic. [laughter] but they didn't test well. so my question is this, is it more important that we know what student know or is it more important that we know that students are learning? dr. west? >> so it is much more important if we're trying to think about the performance of the school system to focus on what students are learning, because that's what schools have more of an impact on. what students know at a given point in time will be heavily influenced by genetics as you mentioned perhaps but by the family environment that they grew up on, a whole host of factors outside of the school's control. when we're thinking about
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accountability, it should be for student learning. >> mr. leather? >> it's a conundrum. i think to try to separate whether we need to know what a student knows versus whether they're learning. i don't see how you could go one way or the other. i think you need to know both. you need to know in the end is a student ready to make use of knowledge. >> mr. leather, do you only reward a student for what they know or reward a student if they're learning? i mean i to back to no child let hine and it hadn't rolled out exactly how i envisioned with i worked closely with the bush administration. average yearly progress of that is not necessarily what you know. that is what you're learning. i think this got hijacked somewhere to where everything is about what they know. that is what the annual test is.
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mr. mr. bowes berg? >> i think we emphasize how much students grow. it is very important our kids graduate from high school ready for college or career. that is a standard and clear and articulable standard. that we help our student prepare our students have accountability and transparency. are we graduated kid where they're prepared to succeed in college and in today's knowledge intensive economy. >> mr. henderson? >> it is a important philosophical question but it assumes students basically begin on an evening playing field. part of the concern i have about the way in which the question is framed is students who are poor students of color, students with disabilities, students who are not proficient in english, are often not given the resources
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that they need and openly through these assessments are we able to demonstrate that the state has failed to meet either its own constitutional obligation under state constitutional law or, whether they have failed to make the kind of progress that would allow them to continue doing what they're doing, without interventions of the kind that the law now would require. i mean part of the problem we have is that when states are given the kind of deference and the kind of latitude that they have, you see a weakening of standards, you see a failure to invest in communities most in need you see a real enforcement of existing inequalities of about how schools are funded and there is no way of reaching those problems because the state has no incentive to necessarily correct the problem other than to say yes, the business community and the state wants to have a stronger graduating pool but leaders of the state are not held accountable by the failure
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to meet those standard unless the federal government steps in. and i think the history of how the waivers have been used and how states have squirmed out of their responsibility reinforces that point. >> miss lee? >> thank you. i want to start by saying, yes i know many student who are brilliant but are poor test takers. they go on to become brilliant
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students at the end of high school need to demonstrate mastery on four different performance tasks. we could do a lot better job of helping students prepare for those truly learning if we got rid of this notion that a kid who enters in ninth grade, need to be done four years later. >> thank thank you. thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator burr. senator franken and then senator isakson. >> i want to thank the chairman and the ranking member for this great group of witnesses and
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where we're getting. mr. boesberg, i think you from senator bennet's questioning hit on this proficiency versus growth. it is a great topic because a sixth grade teacher quid from to fifth grade level reading from third grade level is a hero but under proficiency they're a goat. on the race to the middle they would focus above kid just above proficiency, just below proficiency and get the percentage above proficiency and kid on the top would be ignored. mr. lazar you hit on this, and the kid at the bottom would be ignored. that is why growth is so important. to me to do growth you have to measure every year. now, i also think that you should do it in real time. all the assessments in real time. that's why i like computer adaptive tests. so teacher can use results to
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inform their instruction. the question and the nub i think we're getting to is, what kind of assessments you're making and, because the assessments that measure these fine little. >> discrete skills that is what you're going to teach to. so that informs, or that creates a curriculum, that is focusing on the wrong thing. so if we can create a assessments, that are measureing what merchandise lee and mr. lazar want to sheesh sure, we have the answer to our question. when i say i talk to employers in men society. they want people with critical thinking. they want people who work in teams. we have to hold schools accountable but we also have to make sure that we, they're accountable for making citizens
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that and people who can think critically and really learn and that's what everybody on this panel wants. so mr. boasberg, i want you to run with it. anyone else run with what i just said. >> great, thank you senator. you but it, very very well how important it is to care about growth for all kids and not just kid on a cusp of a particular line. >> the thing i like about the law was called no child left behind. that is the thing i like the most about. >> and i i would also i think one of the things we're very much looking for is a new generation of assessments which will be introduced this thing, is much more sophisticated set of assessment. it is much more around complex thinking problem-solving. not about rote memmization. if you're teaching rote memmization. your kids will not do well.
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about kind of skills we need to care about for universities and our economy. at the same time, we tly to create too much this one vessel of this once a year assessment to hold everything. i think you want to a good assessment to measure progress and literacy and math and sophistication and challenge we'll see in assessments introduce this year and at the same time welcome multiple measures performance based assessments mr. lazar and mr. leather talked about, to be able to judge as miss lee, no one assessment will be able judge everything. again, this isn't either or. to have common statewide measures owesophisticated measures of student progress in literacy and math i think is essential so you can see how kids are doing from district to district. you can see where the best schools in the state are working with english language learners. if you have completely different measures from school to school
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and district to district you can't capture best practice. you can't truly understand where the most progress is being made but again i do think those should be short. i would like to keep them no more than four hours a year. but then, welcome other, more performance-based assessments in all of that should be part and parcel of what a teacher should looks at, what a school leader looks at, what a district looks at and potentially if the state could get to that level, what a state looks at as well. >> anybody else want to weigh in? mr. lazar, just, on your kind of performance, your performance picture, don't awe agree if you are going to hold scoots -- schools accountable you have to have something you need to objective look at? but can you design a computer adaptive test, say, where you're filling in circles can you design something that gets more at the kind of thing you want to
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measure? sorry. >> you can. it takes more time and it is more expensive. i have worked on a lot of assessment development both at the city level and i did some work i'm doing prototype tasks for smaller balance. it is a lot of hard work. it takes a lot of time and a lot of expertise to design those. i think if we identify a role for the federal government in education, it's put fund and put resources behind test development and assessment development. do a range of them and make them available to schools to choose. because the type of work we do in my school, we have a group much wonderful teachers who are committed to doing it and we've arranged the time in our program to be able to do that in large part through the pros initiative in new york city. what we do actually isn't something that all schools can start doing tomorrow. so if these assessments were out there and schools could choose
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ones that fit their curricular need we're in good shape. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. lazar. senator isakson. >> thank you mr. chairman, and thanks to ranking member murray for having what i think is a very important hearing. talking about listening to michael bennet talk a minute ago, i happen to be one of the two remaining members of congress actually wrote no child left behind. everyone has gone on to bigger and better things. we would all tell you the follow, last night commerce committee meeting and ted kennedy and i george miller fred upton, john boehner, went into the basement on capitol and signed off con r on commerce committee report we almost said in unison if this works, because this will be impossible for schools to maintain ayp because it will get harder and harder to do. if we had done a reauthorization seven years ago a lot of problems we know there are do, wouldn't go on because we would have corrected that, that's number one. number two this is not a defensive speech i'm making here
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but for educational purposes. assessment was very important. disaggragation was more important and focusing on the individual student was most important and no child left behind did that. no child flew under the radar screen. everybody got in a disaggregated group by race or ethnicity or language or speech or disability whatever. we did something we always amalgamated everybody and averaged them out. set iowa es it of basic skills we're doing x. that wasn't anything good for little johnny who couldn't read i hate that reference but i have to use it. we need little johnny involved equally as well. i have a question for miss lee or probably a little bit after statement. i didn't get to hear your testimony and i apologize but in the last attempt which i commend the chairman doing what he did we almost got there on reauthorization it fell apart, i fought very hard to allow for alternative assessment for special need children. to take a standard desfor a
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desaggregated student take it when you have psychoevaluations, physical disabilities cognitive disabilities, it is impossible to have one size fits all assessment. i felt teacher was best, teacher and parent and iep were best designed to have what assessment the child ought to have. i like your comment on that. >> i completely agree. aspects education teacher -- >> everybody make note of this answer now. >> i started teaching first year of nclb. i see first-hand started teaching in what was called the high school for students who were at risk. special education district in new york city. and what i found was, that you're right, no assessments fits all including all students and, what i would have to do in my assessments is diversify, right? what i know about my students i assess them, again sit alongside, get to know them and
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who they are, their abilities, set very high standards, work with the parents and the team. it is not just me. it was related service providers. you have experts and specialists coming in, we work together as a team to develop assessments to determine students where they were and where we wanted to set goals for them so that work has continued. i feel as though again to echo you know, steve lazar, that states or federal government does have a role in insuring that this is made possible at the states. >> one thing i learned, i will get to you in just one second. one thing i learned as state board chairman in georgia if your testing is not aligned with your curriculum you will never get good data. >> right. >> we had a big problem in nclb, to align a test we required with a curriculum that was national would blow up in our face
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because nobody want ad colorado set of curriculum to apply to georgia student anymore than colorado didn't want a george today do it. we did a nape to set the standard of whatever standard they were using. one thing the federal government can give them the excuse we're making them do it, make sure the curriculum, alignment of testing whatever model you use you really do that in line. you find what the student is learning. people say that is teaching to the test. that is education what is all about, if you teach a subject and test what the student was taught, and that is curriculum alignment. then you get a true measure how much they achieved. mr. henderson, you wanted to speak. >> thank you. i think mainstream assessment means students are more likely to have access to mainstream curriculum. i think one of the principles that the communities representing disabled students with disabilities have said is that the only exemption in the
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regulation is for students with the most severe cognitive disabilities. one of the concerns we have is that you see frequently that students are misclassified as having emotional disturbance disabilities or being intellectually disabled and those labels frequently apply to students of color. and they are then taken out of mainstream curriculum given, inconsistent with the requirement of the law, access to less rigorous forms of academic accomplishment and the results have been disasterous for many of those communities. i think there is a real concern, certainly amongst students with disabilities representing persons with disabilities that they not be taken out, needlessly from mainstream curricula offerings and that doesn't have anything to do with the kind of assessment that states might develop. i completely agree with mr. lazar. there should be a more sophisticated form of assessment to compliment and provide the kind of insights that these
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wonderful teachers have asked for but that is not inconsistent with the requirement of an annual assessment that is used to really get diagnostic assessments of how communities are doing that might otherwise be left behind unless you have a uniform standard and application. >> my time's up. thank you both for that the response and mr. chairman, thank you for holding this hearing. >> thank you senator isakson. we have senator baldwin senator casey, senator whitehouse, senator murphy and unless some randompub wanders into the room. and there should be time for all of you to have a fullfy minutes. then we'll be close to the noon the noon hour when we want to conclude the hearing. senator baldwin. >> thank you mr. chairman. and i very grateful to you and the ranking member for getting us off to a great start with a bipartisan dialogue how we can address the shortcomings of the no child left behind law and i'm
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hopeful we can find a thoughtful path forward to fixing this law for all students parents, teachers administrators, policymakers. we need we need this information. also a great panel, thank you to the witnesses. a well-designed standardized test is one important tool among many that can help all of the stakeholders i just listed understand how well individual students are doing as well as how our nation's schools are serving all of our nation's children. and as such, we should know if the tests given, those required by federal law as well as those that are required by state and local districts are of high quality and aligned to states learning standards. we should also have a clear idea of how much classroom time is spent on preparing for, and taking standardized tests as
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opposed to instruction. in preparation for this very debate i introduced the smart act. alongwith representative suzanne bonamici in the house of representatives and senator murray and others here in the senate. the smart act is designed to up date a specific federal grant program that already goes to states every year for assessment development and implementation. it will allow states and districts to audit their assessment systems and reduce unnecessary and duplicative state and local tests, with the design of freeing up more time for teaching and learning. i think this legislation presents a common-sense approach to help reduce unnecessary testing, which is why it has widespread support. from the nation's largest teachers union and other
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education reform groups. i'd like to turn to our panelists for their perspectives as well. particularly i'd like to ask both dr. west and mr. boassberg because you referenced importance of these sort of audits understanding what is truly happening across the country. can you talk about the importance of states and districts auditing their assessment systems and how such audits could take place at the state and local level? . .
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then you are getting useless information so there are huge potential gains for getting a handle on this and it makes sense to encourage the districts to do it. i would be cautious about the federal government trying to say direct states and districts to test less. as i said we don't know the oddball amounts.
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my understanding of what is going on in new hampshire is as they move to the more common-based model they may be testing more often using higher-quality assessments over the course of the year. that might look bad in some premise is premises that we are testing too much and we need to get that down so i would be cautious about the type of heavy-handed approach. hispanic i think it's important that the states are in district to be transparent and we have a committee doing just that to make their recommendations to the legislature to reduce some of the state mandated testing that had nothing to do with no child left behind and we publish what we do and what we don't do. there is a balance of exactly what the federal government says and how much reporting. i think as it was a sad become our teachers assess the kids in
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some way every day. it could be a clay is, check for understanding it could be dalia, weekly. there's there is nothing i would dread more than our teachers having to classify and record every single thing that could somehow be classified as an assessment or test of student progress. >> senator casey. hispanic i want to thank the panel for being here today especially giving us first hand information and experience from the trenches where a lot of the work. i will focus on a particular question for mr. henderson but i wanted to commend him and others that talk about the broader context. this is a hearing about no child
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behind an in elementary and secondary education, but at the core because of what undergirds the low policy and strategy it's also a hearing about child poverty and other major challenges facing children. some of the numbers just by way of background, some of the numbers on childhood poverty are really bone chilling. there's a report from about a year ago and i'm sure they've updated this january or soon from the organization for the economic cooperation and development and they ranked the top 20 countries on a range of areas and one of them is on child poverty so of the top 20 in the world we are fifth from the worst. our child poverty raises the 2010 number. it will be updated 21.2% of children in the united states of america live in poverty.
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we are just a little better than spain and italy and we are not too far off from mexico and turkey by way of example. if you update it the organization that tracks the data on children come under the anti-casey foundation says that childhood poverty in 2012 was even higher it goes to 23% so it puts us ahead of chile. so by that ranking we are fourth from the first from an outfit. so when you look at that data on the progress that's been made and some of it can be attributed to the federal policy, but when you step back and look at all of these issues, what we haven't done for our kids is a national and bipartisan failure. after world war ii we had the g.i. bill and we did a lot of things that were sparked at that time but we also had for europe
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a marshall plan but we never ever had anything ever even approaching a marshall plan for our kids so that is the predicate and i think that is kind of the background but i want to be much more focused on the question of children with disabilities. you mentioned the concern you have about how treating them differently relates to some of the assessments that we undertake. one piece of data is that we have about 6 million students in the country with disabilities educated in public schools most of whom spend their day burning alongside other students. according to the national center for education statistics, 90% of students with disabilities do
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not have cognitive disabilities that would limit them so you're talking about 10% of children with disabilities in the much more severe categories. what is your basic concern about where we are now and where we could be a draft on the table were to be an active. >> thank you for your question and for putting your question in the broad context of the two television circumstances. hispanic they will face states that are making policy choices about where to make investments. so let me say as a senator bennett said investment in early childhood education paid dividends but often don't require that. you also recognize that while there may be a cap on ensuring that only the students with the most severe cognitive disabilities are classified as such in schools now.
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they are avoiding the kind of rigorous coherence to standards that we would like. they would have a huge problem. but what we have found from the draft that we have seen and by the way, i am drawing those from a council on the parent attorneys and advocates representing persons with disabilities and from organizations representing people with disabilities within the leadership conference. and they stressed the importance of trying to adhere to standards because what they've seen is that students with disabilities are often classified as proficient, not having that.
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they have the most rigorous mainstream standard that would be required under existing law. that for us is a huge problem and when you add to the fact that states now because of budgets are choosing not to invest in public education in the same way quite frankly that is what happened in pennsylvania the last few years creating huge problems particularly for kids with disabilities. so our view is that the state will choose to make the cut where the voices of the advocacy community are perhaps the weakest. and unfortunately that sometimes applies to our students with disabilities. they are often in poverty themselves and lack the kind of strong advocacy network aside from the organizations that i've identified here that can represent their interest and one last point -- to make the new
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america foundation looked at 15 states -- >> we are running short on time. >> 4400 schools that have been previously established for purposes of intervention were largely ignored under the states once believers had been given and so that is the reality of what we faced. >> thank you mr. henderson and mr. casey. senator white house? >> thank you mr. chairman. >> my experience with the education universe is that there are two worlds in it. one is of contractors and consultants and academics and experts and plenty of officials at the federal, state and local level and the other is a world of principles and teachers who
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are providing education to students. and what i'm hearing from my principals and teachers is that the footprint of the first world has become way too big to the point it is inhibiting their ability to do the job that they are interested to do. so i understand there are lots of concerns and i share those concerns about eking sure that the benefit of education is spread easily across the children of the country and those that don't have a voice don't lose out on their chance to join the ranks of economic success where they will have a voice. it's in something that they call english language art that is off to a pretty bad start.
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and i wasn't all that impressed with those questions and tests. i didn't see the test questions that couldn't have been integrated in the test given by regular teachers and the ordinary course of teaching and assessing their students. to me it is pretty clear that they are designed to school and about the students when student when i first started in rhode island at the timing resulted in that the contractor assumed was such that the teacher in the coming year wouldn't even have the information so clearly the next teacher wasn't the focus of this effort. the scheduling and the preparation is important because kids are not stupid and they know the difference between a test that will affect their grade and a test that is not going to affect their grade so the school has to go through heroic efforts to get them interested and prepared for the test they know they are not
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going to be personally graded on or responsible for the outcome of and then did some scheduling problems. they can't always get them in at once and many don't have the electronic bandwidth for the class to take a test at once so that's not contest not one test at its three tests and you can't teach one test while the others are in a room. we have got to solve this problem. it is an efficiency problem and did that being smart about gathering information. but i am really concerned about this and i am saying at this point to invite the conversation with my colleagues as we go forward. the superstructure of education supervision i'm not sure passes the test of being worth of the expense and trouble and it very discouraging to the teachers who hear about the race to the top
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of money that comes to the state and they get a grant and everybody has a press conference and it's like the rain is falling over the desert where it comes pouring out of the clouds but by the time you're actually at the desert floor not a raindrop polls. it's all but absorbed in between. i've never had a teacher say to me grace to the top gave me just what i need in terms of books or a whiteboard or something i can use. so i think we have to be careful about distinguishing the importance of the purpose of some of this oversight and not allow the importance to allow the oversight to be conducted in such an inefficient, clumsy and wasteful way to the people that we really trust the people in the classroom are looking back at us and saying stop. i can't deal with this you are inhibiting my ability to teach and i think that the damage in the classroom calls just as hard
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on the communities that are having a difficulty getting their fair share of education than it does anywhere else and i think that we really need to grapple with that in this committee and i've basically used all of my time in that set of remarks that douglas was in the manner of a question and more of an invitation to my colleagues to continue the discussion and let them know what i think is important as we go forward. >> thank you senator white house, invitation accepted. i think we need to have lots of discussions about this and not all these discussions i'm discovering pulldown in predictable ways. now the wrapup with senator murphy. >> thank you for convening a really well balanced and thoughtful hearings.
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i got the chance to read almost all of the testimony that i wasn't hearing person. i came to congress as a vocal opponent and critic of no child left behind for a lot of the reasons that the senator enunciated but also i come from a family of educators and i mother was a wonderful elementary school teacher and then english as a second language teacher and she walked away from teaching before she thought she was going to in part because she ended up spending more time on bureaucracy and a lot less time on teaching and that isn't what she went into it for. but one of the first meetings i had when i got here was with the children's defense fund. they had heard that i i have been an active critic of the child left behind and they wanted to just present the case for me of what was happening in other parts of the country with
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respect to children with disabilities to explain when there were places where there were cost pressures on the local school districts to provide a full education services for kids with disabilities they were spending part of the week with the janitor in technical education and were being largely ignored and while they had critiques their point was that it's important for us not to abandon the gains we've made with respect to children with learning disabilities who hadn't been getting a fair shot before so i wanted to build on the question senator casey raised and maybe i will direct it to my friend for disclosure.
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senator casey reference to some data suggesting the enormity of students with disabilities in the special education programs that do have the ability to take the test and get yet the fear is if you give school districts the ability to move broad swaths out from under the test you lose the pressure to provide the appropriate education but you also caution more generally to the ability of the parents of children with disabilities to figure out where their children will succeed in succeed in where they are and even if you preserve annual statewide testing and the portions of children with learning disabilities those parents are not helped by the overall
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assessment of the schools i would love to you at the data shows about what happens when we require the majority into the mainstream for accountability moving forward. >> as the senator mentioned the majority should be able to reach the same standards of modifications to the assessments they are given. the second point i would make is that there has to be some form of a cap on the number of students who are allowed to take those alternative assessment. >> i'm not sure that the 1% cap is the right number. i'm not an expert in the education of students with disabilities but we know from how they respond to the more generally for some students did those schools will find a way to
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game the system and they might reclassify students as he and eligible for special education is that exempts them from the accountable pool of students so there needs to be a mechanism in the accountability to account for the dynamic. some flexibility to offer the natural variation at a given school were a given district that might actually be appropriately excluded from the standard assessment. so i think those policies have been a bit more rigid that there needs to be a mechanism and i'm not the one to tell you the details of how to do it. >> on average you're talking about half a percentage have the ability to take the test but i think you're right there are going to be variations and i
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look forward to working with the chairman and ranking member on this issue. thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you senator murphy. i will ask senator murray if she has any closing remarks. >> i would say there's a tremendous interest on our side of the aisle in fixing the notion of fixed behind law to really make sure in admin the country we do make sure no matter where they live or who their parents are and how much money they have that they have the opportunity of the american dream of a good education and that is the equalizer i think is so important for our country and will allow all of our young people to be able to grow up into the jaw and support all of us and be competitive in the global marketplace. so it is a huge goal. i think there is tremendous interest. we want to work with you in a bipartisan basis to work and move forward on this bill and i really want to thank everybody that participated today. >> this is a good beginning. i've learned a lot from the witnesses and i like the exceptional variety that we have
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i think the senators you could see the large number that came here today and who had thoughtful comments and for those who came and couldn't get in the hearing room we will do our best to have a larger hearing room for our next hearing which will be next tuesday at 10 a.m. and it will be about fixing no child left behind, supporting teachers and school leaders so we look forward to that. i would like to invite the witnesses if there is something today that you want to say that you didn't get to say we would like to hear it. if you could do that in the next few days that would be very helpful. and to the senators i would say if you have additional questions please ask for example how do we put the spotlight with her to
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the states and local governments coming up with all these extra tests and senator bennett asked the same question we ever tend to state and local school districts to identify the number of kids but if you have an idea about that on the effort we would appreciate it. i'm going to send you a question and ask a question whether high-stakes discourage multiple assessment. i would ask that question and then i would like to invite you to follow up by suggesting in the one area that we might provide more funding is in developing better assessment. the danger is whenever the federal government is that it likes to put its fingers on what to do so your comments on the par for anybody and that would be helpful. >> i'm interested in taking advantage of that opportunity.
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none of the witnesses had a chance to comment on what i said. can you let me know by what time you would like the additional questions so that our folks -- >> what is my deadline? >> what's convenient for you? to >> end of the week. >> we will work with you. the sooner we get the question that the sooner we will get answers back and we will see how this goes. i work with senator murray and it may be that we have roundtable discussions rather than hearings where we can sit around and have conversations about particular point and not be limited with five minutes of questions so there are different ways to go about this if you could let us know in a week or sooner that would be a big help and then we will go to work on. >> normally we see at the close of business this friday. i'm just learning.
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if you can do it by the close of business that would be helpful. the hearing record will be open for ten days. thank you for being here today. any other outbursts or comments anyone? a hearing is adjourned.itute to the
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>> i sent a cloture motion on the substitute this. >> the clerk will report the motion. unde >> we the senators in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate moved to bring to a close the debate on the murkowski amendment number two the keystone xl pipeline approval act signed by 17 senators as follows. >> i ask the reading of the names be dispensed with. >> without objection. >> i send a cloture motion to the desk. >> the clerk will report the cloture motion. >> lead the undersigned senators in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 do hereby move to a close the debate on s. one the bill to improve the keystone xl pipeline signed by 17 senators -- >> the further reading of the names be dispensed with.
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>> without objection. >> i ask unanimous consent at 9:30 a.m. friday tomorrow the senate proceed to vote in relation to the following amendments in the order listed. moran 73 132 and further that all amendments on the list be subject to a 60 vote affirmative threshold for adoption and that no second degrees be in order to the amendments and i ask there be two minutes of debate = i did and all those after the first b. ten minute votes. >> is there objection? >> reserving the right to object >> now that we have purged the calendar of the five to six different of a critic amendment amendment majority leader told us it is time to vote. it doesn't strike me that this isn't the best interest of what we are trying to achieve here in
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going back and forth in a bipartisan construction passion. i would like to ask the majority leader are you prepared to be in session tomorrow and to consider democratic and republican amendments and work through the list including the ones you just able to? >> does the senator from illinois and tend to object? >> what i'm asking is to amend this so that it does have some balance. you mentioned one democratic amendment and at least five or six republican amendments to be considered tomorrow. >> we just had votes on democratic amendments your members offered at didn't want to agree to have a vote on terri area to >> the record will reflect the debate on those amendments when you wouldn't even give 60 seconds to describe what was in the amendment? >> the senator from illinois is going to object? a >> i object.
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>> i suggest the absence of a quorum. >> the house convenes on monday at 2 p.m. eastern with live coverage on c-span. the senate is at fort:30 and c-span will cover the senate session live. wednesday was very governor nixon discovered that it could deliver to his state of stress after us outlining the budget that calls for expanding medicaid to increasing funding for education and modernizing the veteran facilities and also talked about measures being taken following the events in ferguson including to help small businesses recover in the creation of the office of community engagement. [applause] >> good evening.
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thank you, lieutenant governor speaker members of the general assembly, judges of the supreme court state officials members of my cabinet and honored guests. i think god and the people of missouri for the privilege to serve our state. it wouldn't have been possible without the steadfast support of my family. my wonderful wife, george. [applause] >> throughout my life i've been guided by principles. i was taught in the troop 59 do your duties to god and your country can help other people at all times and leave things better than you found them.
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following these principles i became an eagle scout, husband, father, state senator attorney general and now governor. the same principles were made touchstones for service to the state. in 30 years of public service i've learned a lot about the character of the people in missouri. we don't expect something for nothing. it gives us an opportunity and we will roll up our sleeves to get to work. give us a challenge and we will rise to meet it. i've also learned a lot about the state government. if we admire the partisanship not much gets done but when we aim high and work together, there is much we can accomplish so let's show the people we serve that we can rise above partisanship. unite and move forward. let's do our duty to help others and leave the surrey better than we found it and that means
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working together. [applause] i'm willing to do my part. rumor has it that i don't spend enough time up on the third floor. i'm going to be coming around a little more often. just be careful what you wish for. one hour ago in my office i presented the legion of honor. it is the highest distinction bestowed by the french government for service to the people of france. in the summer of 1944 he was a gunner with a 609 battalion. he joined general patton france during the battle of the bulge and was awarded the bronze star for meritorious service.
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january 26 of last week is when it ended. he represents millions of members of the greatest generation. men and women who demonstrated the great purge and unshakable optimism that made our country what it is today. sergeant, would you please stand. on behalf of all we thank you and all the men and women in uniform. [applause] [applause]
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for the courage and sacrifice our veterans deserve more than just -- they deserve to live with dignity and pride. today the generation of the vietnam that are in generation getting older we need to ensure all of our veterans receive the best care possible. that's why my budget includes resources to modernize and improve the state veterans homes so they are up to the highest standards that our veterans deserve. [applause] but we need to do more. nearly 2,000 vets are now on the waiting list to get the care they earned, 2,000. that is unacceptable and that's why i proposed the construction
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of a new veterans home for these proud missourians. [applause] these men and women did their duty to god and country so our lives might be better. now we need to be there for them. let's work together and get that build. [applause] the spirit of optimism and a willingness to face any challenge has always made us special as americans in times of struggle and unrest like those we saw this past year. the spirit has helped us find a new path forward and it's the same spirit that has produced some of the proudest moments over the past six years. together we led the birth of the industry right here in the heartland. [applause]
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together we help communities recover and build in the aftermath of floods blizzards and the deadliest tornado in our history and we are moving forward on a foundation of fiscal discipline and solid economic growth. now here fiscal discipline is a value. we balance budgets, we keep taxes low and we continue to downsize state government while improving services through innovation. we trim the state workforce by almost 4,000 physicians, pay down debt and sell off poverty. in the time that pension costs were dragging down other states, we worked together to shore up the pension system saving taxpayers more than $600 million over ten years. strict fiscal discipline helped
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protect our aaa credit rating ratings giving us the opportunity to make essential long overdue investments in the future. last year the legislature took the first step passing additional capacities and that means this year we can move forward with a strategic issue is to fund improvements to the college campuses, state buildings, state parks and veterans homes. [applause] that means more jobs, better labs for more students, taking care of more veterans, simply let's just get it done. in the past six years we made the government smarter by embracing technology from hunting permits to childcare provider information, we can now access hundreds of government services from our smartphones saving time, money and aggravation. i think the general assembly for supporting investments in 21st century technology to better
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serve our taxpayers. [applause] technology has dramatically improved the quality of our dalia lives but at the same time it has created some serious security challenges and growing anxiety about the safety of sensitive information. from credit card fraud identity theft to cyber terrorism there are real and mounting threats to our personal information, financial and medical records and power grid. hackers are constantly trying to crack security firewalls targeting companies alike. this year we will ramp up our efforts by partnering with businesses, law enforcement and universities to identify best practice and educate the public making missouri and leader in cyber security to make our families and our personal information cedar and strengthen
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the economy. [applause] and you know our economy is growing. let's take a second to remember where we started. when i took office in january 2009 the state had lost more than 65,000 jobs in the previous year. the unemployment rate was 8.6% and rising. today we got the news that the unemployment rate drops again to 5.4%. [applause] home construction is up personal income is up and employers created more jobs in 2014 then any year since 1997. [applause] we just closed out the best year for job growth in 17 years.
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[applause] and we are just getting started. the largest project in our history is underway in kansas city. $4.4 billion campus for 16,000 workers in high-tech healthcare thanks to the work we did in a special session one year ago boeing is bringing commercial aircraft manufacturing for the first time in its history putting hundreds more to work in north st. louis county. [applause] and enterprising small towns and cities across big cities across the state are starting their own businesses then any time in the last 20 years. [applause] another way we are creating more jobs is by selling more products to brazil, china, taiwan for england, france canada and others. some of you in the room joined
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room trying to be on these missions. we signed agreements to sell billions of dollars of goods to businesses and consumers alike. last year our exports hit $14 billion. that's $14 billion of made in misery products going all over the world. [applause] a big part of that success is the number one industry agriculture. 2014 was a phenomenal year for exports from corn and soybeans to rice, chicken, hawks and turkeys and there are 11 million more potential customers from the farm products 90 miles away from the u.s. and cuba. for many in my generation, trade with cuba was unthinkable but never underestimate the power of american democracy to improve people's lives and open a park and wines. once the free markets begin to
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flourish freedom will follow. two weeks ago i went to washington and stood for the coalition that now includes more than 40 groups calling for expanded trade security. in march i'm heading to havana with the director of agriculture and the leaders of national interstate commodity groups to make sure that misery is first in the door -- is missouri is first in the door because all we need is an open door into the hard-working producers will do the rest. we are also working to bring economic opportunity to small towns and rural communities by boosting our cattle industry. missouri ranks second in the nation in the production. thanks to the cutting-edge research and the know-how of the farmers and ranchers. but here's the beef.
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nearly all of those animals leave before they are full grown ever finished in the process and other states. that means misery is missing out on more than $1 billion in value every year. we need to keep the cattle and the dollars right here in the show me state. [applause] earlier this month we brought together hundreds of folks from around the state producers scientists, corn growers, legislators and others to develop a plan to do just that and we are also proposing $1.2 million to research new ways to make the cattle industry more profitable with the right strategy on beef he can strengthen the economy and the families and the communities that depend on it. getting more goods to the global markets requires the transportation infrastructure to get there safely.
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we traditionally pay for roads and bridges through the user fees like the gas stations. we believe it is only fair that folks who use the roads also pay for them. but with more fuel-efficient vehicles drivers are getting more miles out of each gallon of gas. so they end up paying less to fund the roads. as a result money for the roads and bridges is drying up. missouri has the second-largest highway system in the nation and we rank 46 and how much we invest to maintain it. last week we heard of the layout in stark terms what this means. on thousands of miles of state roads from st. louis will barely be able to patch potholes. by 2017 we won't even have enough revenue to match federal highway dollars. so what do we do?
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one option is the toll road. the highway commission's recent report shows this approach could make by 70 better and safer and free up tens of millions of dollars for the roads around the state. the trucks and out-of-state vehicles that do the most damage would have to pay their fair share. that deserves serious consideration. here's another option, the gas tax. the gas tax hasn't gone up a penny in nearly 20 years. it's the fifth lowest in the nation with gas prices as low as they are now this is worth a very close look. if we want to leave the roads better than we found them the only thing we can't really do is sit still. this is a major long-term challenge and this is the time to get moving, now. now creating opportunity for all
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requires us to face some painful truths and tackle some difficult challenges. the events following the death of michael brown sparked a national conversation about race and e. quality education and economic opportunity more enforcement and the courts. we've already taken meaningful steps forward in ferguson. we provided loans to help small businesses recover. we will invest 2.5 billion to him to prove the avenue. i created the office of community engagement with by the former senator. she is already doing great work including overseeing the summer jobs program for thousands of low-income kids in st. louis and kansas city. [applause] last fall i created the ferguson
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commission that continues its vital work of listening, learning and evaluating solutions. i look forward to receiving a final report september. but make no mistake the legacy of ferguson will be determined by what we do next to foster healing and hope. as it changes we make to strengthen all of our communities. [applause] many of the broader systemic issues required a sustained effort by those of us in this room. we need to reform the musa miscible corpse so that all citizens are treated fairly. [applause] we need to update the state statute of deadly force to be consistent with u.s. supreme court precedent. [applause]
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we need to support policies that foster racial understanding and compassion. [applause] we need to create greater economic opportunity and encourage personal responsibility. [applause] we need to strengthen failing schools and provide access to affordable healthcare. [applause] and we must recruit, train and a certified professional law enforcement that reflects the diversity of the community of service. [applause] the men and women of law enforcement serving to protect in difficult and dangerous circumstances. they put their lives on the line to protect our lives. we are proud of our law
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enforcement officers. [applause] we send them into the street where there's too much violence and too little hope, too much fear and little trust. but some folks feel they have to choose sides, then the war us teams or cops black or white. the truth is we are all in this together. [applause]
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the truth is real and lasting change is only possible when we stand together. we saw many examples of compassion and generosity in ferguson, religious leaders residents, business owners, teachers volunteered to provide activities for hundreds of kids at the public library. one day last summer troopers from the missouri state highway patrol were driving through when they noticed a basketball hoop that looked pretty sad bent over and didn't even have a nexus with their own money the troopers went to a local store and bought a new mac and a basketball and drove back hung it up and tossed the ball with some neighborhood kids. [applause] back on the same street the next day the trooper saw a pickup
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game was underway and they joined in. of course it was just in -- war than a friendly game of hoops, it was the opportunity to ease tension. again fostering trust and to bring about the kind of change that is needed in communities all across america. [applause] as we search for long-term strategies to promote the quality and economic opportunity we don't need to look further than education. education is the great equalizer because when every child has a quality education, every child has the opportunity to succeed. [applause] and education is the best economic development tool that we have.
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[applause] that's why we've increased funding while also raising our expectations with more rigorous classes, tougher tests and stricter accountability. and the schools are rising to the challenge. over the past six years at scores have gone up, reading scores have gone up and we are starting to see solid progress in some of our most troubled school districts. tonight we are joined by doctor tiffany anderson, the superintendent of the school district of north st. louis county. and reenter parker at the prep academy with a 4.0. [applause] listen to these numbers. more than 90% -- there we go. [applause]
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isn't nice to be in the room everyone else got straight a's? [laughter] follow travelers with you. more than 90% of the kids in her district come from poor families. but the superintendent and her team don't let anything hold them back. the students have made big leaps forward over the past several years with higher test scores and higher graduation rates. please join me in thanking their leader to talk a big doctor anderson. [applause]
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communities across the state you will get a sense for how strongly missourians support their public schools and their teachers. voters overwhelmingly rejected a wrongheaded attack on public school teachers with more than 76% of missourians voting against them. that was by the narrow special interest lost in every single county of the state. [applause] and in stone county in washington they demonstrated just how fiercely they stand behind public schools because they know we need to pay our teachers more not chip away at their job security. [applause]
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will the public schools strive and the communities strive and if we are completely honest about where our school stands, we still have work to do. because better isn't good enough. our kids deserve the best. my budget will invest an additional $11 million in preschool so that more children regardless of the circumstances start kindergarten ready to learn. [applause] and once again i am proposing wreck or to funding for k-12 education with an additional $150 million for the local public schools. [applause] [cheering] that means more technology in the classrooms and a smaller class sizes, more hands-on learning and also better pay for the folks that do the most important job there is teaching our kids. [applause]
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i also appreciate the bipartisan discussions we had about the school transfer law and i am confident the legislature will get a clean fix this session. now we know the fastest growing highest paying jobs in the global economy are in science technology, engineering and math. but right now less than 20% of our undergraduates in the public universities are getting degrees in these demanding academic disciplines. we ought to expose kids at an early age to programs that bring science and math to life like project project lead the way. i've been up to protect leads the way classrooms where they were designing software and it is a game changer. we now have more project computer science programs than any other state. [applause]
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but not enough schools are using it at the elementary level. we need to ramp up genetically. that's why my budget provides startup grants to expand to another 350 elementary schools all across the show me state. [applause] when it comes to higher education, we continue to be guided by our core principles. quality, affordability, and accountability. since 2009, misery has led the nation holding down tuition increases at the public universities number one. [applause] i'm proposing an additional $25 million for colleges and universities based on how well they need strong performance standards. we are also working to provide state-of-the-art facilities that will prepare students for
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high-tech jobs replacing the lab equipment that is more than 30-years-old integrating engineering buildings with leaking roofs and poor lighting. it can't prepare students can prepare students for 21st century jobs with equipment that was obsolete in the 20th century. in fact with your hard work last year when of the project is already underway. long overdue renovations at the college of engineering. the lab classroom space and lab space to provide more missourians for high-tech and high wage jobs of the future. education and educating the competitive workforce is something we can all get behind and i want to thank you for what you've done to help us with our colleges. [applause] ..
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their latest harebrained idea is the construction of a 306 in the aqueduct to slice off more of our missouri river water. we cannot let that happen. [applause] as long as i'm governor, i will not let states upstream divert missouri river water that we rely on for drinking, farming and industry. we need to

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