tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN January 22, 2015 1:00am-3:01am EST
later remarks by the chinese premier at the world economic forum followed by president obama speaking at boise state university. wednesday state and local education officials from around the country testified about changes to the no child left behind act which was signed into law by president george w. bush in 2002. they appeared before the senate education committee led by lamar alexander, a former education secretary under president george h.w. bush. this is 2 1/2 hours. i am the chairman and patty minded me she is a teacher so we will start on time.
welcome. senate committee on health education labor and pensions will please come to order. this morning we have a hearing on fixing no child left behind testing and accountability. there is a lot of interest in this hearing. we have heard from people around the country ever since last week when we put a draft working paper up on the website. we have a lot of people in the hall. i would say to those in the hall who are not able to get in the room we have an overflow room room 538 so you are able to lisz listen to the proceedings. so if someone would let those outside know that then they have a chance to listen to testimony and questions. we welcome them and everyone here. ranking member murray and i will each have an opening statement and then we introduce our panel of witnesses. then we have a round of questions. we ask our witnesses to summarize their testimony please in five minutes each because the senators will have lots of
questions. i'll call on the senators in order of seniority. at the time the gavel went down and who are here. after that they will go on the order of first come first serve. we will conclude the hearing at noon or before if we get through earlier. and in my opening remarks they take a little longer than normal since this is the first meeting of the committee in this congress. i promise my colleagues i won't make a habit of that. and i will keep my questions to the same five minutes that everyone else has. first some preliminary remarks about the committee itself. this committee touches almost every american. no committee is more ideologycally diverse and no more productive than thas committee. last congress 25 bills through this committee were signed by the president and became law,
some very important. that is because chairman harkin and i work to find areas of agreement. i look forward to working in the same way with senator murray. she is direct and well respected by her colleagues on both sides of the aisle. she cares about people. she is a member of the democratic leadership and result oriented. i look forward to that working relationship. we will have an open process which means every senator regardless of party affiliation will have a chance to participate, full opportunity for discussion and amendment not just in committee but on the floor. i mean, when our bills in the last congress never got brought up on the floor but this year we want a result and that means go to the further and further amendments and further discussion. that means 60 votes to get off the floor. it will be a bipartisan bill. if it goes to conference we know the president will be involved. we want his signature on our bills. all the way through we will do our best to have input from
everyone so we can get a result. the schedule of the committee generally will start with unfinished business. first fixing no child left behind. this is way overdue. it expired more than seven years ago. we posted a working draft last week on the website. we are getting a lot of feedback. staffs are meeting exchanging ideas. we will have more weeks of hearings and meetings but we have been working on this six years. we have had 24 hearings over the last three congresss on k-12 or fixing no child left behind and almost all of the members of the committee this year were members last year. so we hope to finish our work by the end of february and have it on the floor. i say it is important to do that so we can get floor time. no child left behind took six or seven weeks when passed in 2001. we would like to have a full
opportunity for debate and amendment. second reauthorizing higher education. this is for me about deregulating higher education, mabing rules simpler and more effective for example student aid loan forms so more students can go to college. we can finish the work that we started in 2013 on student loans. we can look at accreditation and look at deregulation. the task force that was formed on deregulation will be the subject of our hearing on february 24. as rapidly and responsibility as we can we want to repair the damage of obamacare and provide more americans with health insurance that fits their budget. on this issue we don't agree among party lines but first hearing is on the 30-40 hour work week. we will have a hearing tomorrow
on that and will report our findings to the finance committee. then some new business. let's call it 21st century cures what the house calls it. it finishes its work this spring on that issue. the president talked about it last night. he is also interested. i talked with him about it. he is interested in all three of these subjects that we talked about. fixing no child left behind finishing our work on higher education and 21st century cures. i like that because i like to find those areas of agreement. we hope we can have a legislative proposal that he will be glad to sign. what we are talking about here is getting more medicines, devices and treatments through the food and drug administration more rapidly to help millions of americans. now, there will be more on labor, pensions education and health. these are major priorities and that is how we will start. one other thing the president has made major proposals on community colleges and early
childhood education. these are certainly related to elementary and secondary education but we always handled them separately. we can deal with the community college proposal as we deal with higher education. we will have to talk about how we deal with early childhood education. to do that in a comprehensive way involves getting into head scart and the grant we dealt with in the last congress. now to today's hearing. and i said some more of my colleagues are here today i said i would not be as long in my opening statement in future meetings but this is the first one. last week secretary dunkcan called for the law to be fixed. almost everyone seems to agree with him. it is more than seven years overdue. when we started working on this we did this republicans democrats six years ago former
representative george miller said let's identify the problems. let's pass a lien bill and fix no child left behind. since then we had 24 hearings on k-12 or fixing no child left behind. in each of the last two congresss we have reported bills out of the committee. i would say to my colleagues at congress before last it was mainly what one might call a democratic bill but we voted for it to get it to the floor and continue to amend it. 20 of the 22 of us on the committee were members of the last congress when we reported the bill. 16 of the 22 of us were in the previous congress when we reported the bill so we ought to know the issues pretty well. one reason no child left behind needs to be fixed is it has become unworkable. almost all of america's 100,000
public schools would be labelled a failing school. to avoid this unintended result the u.s. education secretary has granted waivers to 23 states including washington which has had its waiver revoked as well as district of columbia and puerto rico. this created a second unintended result by congress which has stated in law that no federal official should exercise any direction, supervision or control over any curriculum or administration of any educational program. in exchange for the waver rrs the secretary told states how they should measure progress, what constitutes failure for schools and what the consequence of failure are and how to evaluate teachers. their department has in effect become a national school board or as one teacher told me it has
become a national human resources department for 100,000 public schools. at the center of the debate about how to fix no child left behind is what to do about the federal requirement that states each year administer 17 standardized tests with high stake consequences. are there too many tests? are they the right tests? are the stakes for failing them too high? what should washington, d.c. have to do with all of this? many states and school districts require schools to administer additional tests. now, this is called hearing for a reason. i have come to listen. our working draft includes two options on testing. option one gives flexibility to states to decide what to do about testing. option two maintains current law regarding testing. both options would continue to require annual reporting of student achievement
disaggregated by subgroups of children. washington sometimes forgets but governors never do that the federal government has limited involvement in elementary and secondary education contributing 10% of the bill. for 30 years the action has been in the states. i have seen this first-hand. if you forgive me for pointing it out, i was governor in 1983 when president reagan's education secretary issued a nation at risk saying of an unfriendly foreign policy the educational performance we might as well have viewed it as an act of war. the next year tennessee after a long battle with national education association became the first state to pay teachers more for teaching well. then the next two years every governor spent the entire year focusing on education. first time that happened in the national governor's association. i was chairman of it then.
bill clinton was vice chair. in '89 a meeting of governors and established voluntary national education goals. president bush announced america 2000 to move the nation towards those goals state by state, community by community. i was the education secretary then. since then states have worked together voluntarily to develop academic standards, develop tests to create their accountability systems and adopted those that fit their states. i know members of this committee must be tired of me talking until i am blue in the face about a national school board. i know that it is tempting to try to fix classrooms from washington. i also hear from governors and school superintendents who say this. if washington doesn't make us do it the teachers union and opponents from the right will make it impossible for us to
have higher standards and better teachers. i understand there can be short term gains from washington's orders but my experience is that long-term success can't come that way. in fact, washington's involvement, in effect, mandating common core and certain types of teacher evaluation is creating a back lash making it harder for states to set higher standards and evaluate teaching. as one former democratic governor told me recently we were doing pretty well until washington got involved. if they get out of the way we will get back on track. rather than turn blue in the face one more time in front of my colleagues let me conclude with the remarks of new york's high school principal of the year. she responded last week to our committee draft in the following way. i ask that your committee remember that the american public school system was built on the belief that local communities cherish their children and have the right and
responsibility within sensible limits to determine how they are schooled while the federal government has a very special role in insuring that our students do not experience discrimination based on who they are or what their disability might be, congress is not a national school board although our locally elected school boards may not be perfect they represent one of the purist forms of democracy that we have. bad ideas in the small do damage in the small and are easily corrected. bad ideas at the federal level result in massive failure and are harder to fix. this is carol burris, new york's high school principal of the year. she concludes with this. please understand that i do not dismiss the need to hold schools accountable. the use and disaggregation of data has been an important tool that i use regularly as a principal to improve my own school. however the unintended negative
consequences that have arisen from mandated annual testing has proven testing not only to be an ineffective tool but a destructive one, as well. senator murray. >> thank you very much, chairman alexander for holding this hearing today. i want to thank our witnesses with us. this is my first committee meeting as ranking member of the health committee. i want to start by acknowledging tom harkin and commend his years. he was a tireless advocate for those without a voice and will be missed as we all know. i also want to acknowledge and congratulate our new chairman senator alexander. i look forward to working with you, as well. we have had a number of conversations. as we both adjust to our new roles we have one belief we mentioned every time we talk and that is we think working
together this committee can really get exciting work done in the coming two years. talking to our colleagues i am very excited about what we can do together in the coming weeks and months. i am ready to get to work especially on an issue as important as the topic of this committee hearing, education. in fact this is the issue that got me into politics. throughout my career first as a preschool teacher and then on a school board in my own state senate in washington and here in the united states senate i have been committed to making sure every child has someone fighting for them and their future. serving on this committee i am looking forward to making college more affordable and reduceing the overwhelming burden of student loans, expanding access to early learning and making sure voices of students and parents are heard in the policy making process and in the coming weeks and months i will
be especially focused on fixing the broken no child left behind law. nearly everyone agrees that we need to fix no child left behind. the law set unrealistic goals for schools across the country and failed to give them the resources they needed to succeed. we can't turn our back in the process on measuring students' progress or let schools and states off the hook for failing to provide a quality education to all of their students especially because we have seen some successes since 2001 when congress enacted no child left behind. our graduation rate has increased by ten points among students with disabilities regular diploma graduation rates have increased by more than 12% and dropout rates have decreased by more than 17% and achievement gaps have declined among african-american and latineo
students. the federal government has a productive role to making sure assessments and accountability work. assessments help parents and communities hold schools accountable. if a school is failing students year after year parents and communities deserve to have that information and be assured the school will get the resources it needs to improve. i know there are a number of parents here in the audience today and out in the hall who would agree with that. when it comes to our nation's largest federal investment in k-12 education it would be irresponsible to spend billions in federal taxpayer dollars without knowing if the law is making a difference in student laws. many colleagues demand evidence and accountability in other programs and agree we need it with education, as well. i would be concerned about any attempt to eliminate annual statewide assessments as i would be concerned about any attempt
to roll back accountability to make sure we are delivering on our promise of a quality publication for all. now, 13 years after congress passed this law we should use the research and the best practices and the lessons learned to fix no child left behind. i have heard from parents and teachers as well as community members in the state of washington about the ways the current system doesn't work when it comes to testing. we can and should encourage states and districts to reduce redundant and low quality tests. because we have a national interest in making sure all students get an excellent education we do need federal oversight to make sure our system is working for every child. that means offering the resources for improving professional development and for expanding access to high quality learning opportunities to help our struggling schools so we don't consign some kids to sub-par education.
while we carefully consider changes to assessments and accountability to give states and districts the flexibility they need we can't forget our obligation to the kids. i have laid out my priorities for fixing this broken law. i know chairman alexander has put his priorities out in the discussion draft. i hope we can begin conversations about a truly bipartisan approach to help fix this broken law. i know the members on my side are anxious to work and continue the long tradition of this committee tackling tough problems in a bipartisan fashion. fixing no child left behind should not be a partisan issue. it should be one that we do work hand in hand not as democrats and republicans but as americans. this is an issue that is not about politics. it is about what is best for our kids. in our country we believe that every student should have access to a quality public education
regardless of where they live or how they learn or how much money their parents make. other countries in the world are investing in education. they are working every day to get it right for their students. china, india and others think they can beat us in the classroom. we know better. we know we can win this and we know that we have to. for students back in my home state of washington for our economic future and for our shared vision of an american dream. so we can't afford to turn back the clock on the promise of quality education for all. we can't not be the generation that drops the ball on that noble goal and i'm going to continue to fight to bring quality education to all of our students. thank you and i look forward to the panel discussion. >> thank you senator murray. as we will always try to do we will try to have a bipartisan agreement on witnesses. we were able to do that today.
we ask senator warren and senator bennett to introduce two of the witnesses and i will introduce the other four. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i am pleased to introduce dr. marty west, an associate professor of education at the harvard graduate school of education and deputy director of the harvard kennedy school's program on education policy and governance. dr. west studies education policy and reform and impact on student learning and development. he has authored many articles on the subject including many pieces on no child left behind. last year dr. west worked for this committee as senior education policy adviser. i know there are areas where we agree and areas where we disagree but i am always very happy to welcome witnesses from massachusetts to testify before this committee. thank you dr. west for being here today. >> senator bennett. >> thank you, mr. chairman and i want to thank you and ranking
member for holding this hearing. i often say that if we had a rally to keep no child left behind the same on the capitol steps not a single person in the country would come to that. we are eight years overdue. i am honored to introduce my friend the superintendent of the denver public schools. tom joined as chief operations officer in 2007 while i was superintendent and then was unanimously appointed superintendent in 2009 by a grateful school board who no longer had to deal with me. before joining dps tom served as group vice president where he was responsible for mergers acquisitions and strategic partnerships. prior to level three he was legal adviser to reed hunt at the fcc. he helped establish the e-rate program. tom began his career as a junior high school english teacher. he claims to speak fluid
mandarin. i have no idea whether that is true or not. today tom oversees the largest school district in colorado with 185 schools and enrollment of more than 90,000 students and 13,000 employees. when i left denver public schools in 2009 i said if i did a decent job tom will do a better job. no doubt that has been the case. denver public schools is ranked at the top of the state's largest district in student growth. in 2005 denver was dead last. just last year denver public school students eligible for free and reduced lunch had stronger academic growth than nonfree and reduced lunch students statewide in math and writing. and students showed more growth in state counter parts in math by eight points. on top of that the english language learners have outperformed the states. tom happens to be responsible for educating my three daughters. as we begin to talk about
reauthorizing we need to hear the voices of those fighting every day to improve our kids' education. thank you for being here today and we are all looking forward to hearing your testimony. thank you for including me in this. >> i think that boils down to he cleaned up after you left. >> you can't even know half of the truth. >> we are delighted to have you. let me just mention the other witnesses and we turn to them. deputy commissioner of education in new hampshire. mr. henderson testified before this committee before, chief executive officer of the leadership conference on civil and human rights. fourth and fifth grade special education teacher of the earth school new york city. mr. steven laczar, social studies and english teacher
harvest collegiate high school in new york city. i have asked -- we have your testimony and we have read them, at least i have. we ask you to summarize your testimony in five minutes because we have a lot of interested senators who would like to ask you questions. if you don't mind there is a clock that will show you five minutes. why don't>'v start with you dr. west and then go to questions from the senators. >> thank you. chairman alexander, senator murray, members of the committee thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. i would like to begin by congratulating the committee by putting this at the top of the legislative agenda for 114th congress. nothing is more important to our nation's future than insuring we provide all children with opportunity to reach full academic potential. congress can't do that on its own but it can help by addressing the shortcomings of no child left behind and
restoring predictability with respect to federal education policy that state and local officials need to carry out their work. as you move forward with this important work, however, i urge you not to lose sight of the positive aspects of no child left behind, the law's requirement that students be tested annually in reading and math and once in high school provided with detailed information about student's performance in these subjects. the extent to which they have mastered skills that are prerequisite for other educational goals. this has called attention to achievement gaps across entire states and within specific schools. it is ushered in a new era in education research and made it possible to develop new indicators of schools' performance based on contribution to student learning. research confirms that by requiring states to do so no child left behind worked to
generate modest improvements in student learning concentrated in math and among lowest performing students. i say worked in the past sense as the days when no child left behind worked are behind us. as the deadline for all students performing at grade level approached far too many schools were identified as under performing and the system lost its credibility. recent concerns have been raised about the amount of time students spend taking standardized tests. nor do we know how much will be optimal. a handful of recent audits suggest students spend 1% to 3% of the year taking standardized tests, a figure that sounds appropriate. we also know some schools test far more than this and too many schools spend too much time.
the concerns voiced by parents and educators in these schools are legitimate. eliminating testing requirements is not necessary to address the concerns. it is not necessary because federally mandated tests account for half of test taking time. just 32% in a recent ohio study. the rest of the time is devoted to state and district mandated tests and new tests implemented to assess the teacher evaluation system. it would make matters more difficult because the most important flaw of the no child left behind accountability system is the reliance at the level as the measure of school performance. achievement levels are a poor indicator of school quality as they are influenced by factors outside of a school's control. this approach judges schools based on students they serve
not on how well they serve them. performance measures based over time which are possible with annual testing provide a fair more accurate picture of school's contribution to student learning. why did congress design such a system in 2002? many states did not test students annually and those who did were not able to track performance of individual students. that situation has changed thanks to no child left behind and related federal investments. it would be ironic and in my view unfortunate if congress were to re-create the conditions that led to the adoption of an ill-designed accountability system in the first place. eliminateing annual testing would all but eliminate school level information about the learning of student subgroups and limit the information available to parents making choices about the school the child attends.
it would prevent from evaluating effectiveness of new education programs when appropriate research design depends on knowledge of recent achievement. my main recommendation is to maintain the testing requirements while restoring to states decisions about design of accountability systems including how schools are identified as under performing. the federal government has a critical role to play in insuring that parents and citizens have good information about school's performance. at the same time the federal government lacks capacity to design a system that is appropriate to the needs of each state and has a poor record of attempting to dictate the required element by focusing on transparency of information about school performance and resources congress can build on successes of no child left behind while learning from its failures. thank you and i look forward to your questions. >> thank you for excellent testimony, for coming very close
to five minutes. chairman alexander senator murray and members of the committee thank you for inviting me to testify about testing and accountability. i am paul leather deputy commissioner of education in the new hampshire department of education. in new hampshire we are working to explore what the next generation of assessments might look like. we coordinated with council for priorities of reauthorization. these contain three important ingredients. it will continue to support annual assessments of student performance to ensure every parent receives information they need on how their child is performing. it would allow states to base students' annual determinations on a single standardized test or combined results from coherent. it gives states the space to continue to innovate on
assessment and accountability systems so important when the periods of authorization can last ten years or longer. we are working in collaboration with four new hampshire school districts to pilot competency-based systems. we are intent on broadening expectations from simple recitation of knowledge and facts while fostering work study. that is why we have emphasized performance assessments for competency education or pace which is what we call our pilot project. there are several key components in our pilot, development of statewide model competencies that describe knowledge and skills that all students are expected to master, use of personalized competency based approach and awarding credit and the use of common and local
performance-based assessments of competencies throughout each school year in tandem with great spend smarter balance assessments. i am submitting a detailed summary of all steps we are taking to ensure comparability as well as a brief description of demographics of the participating districts. second we support annual determinations based on a coherent system of state and local multiple assessment. rather than relying on one to make this determination we combine a series of assessment results to make the annual determination. over the last year there has been a crescendo of voices across the country raising the concern of overtesting. we believe that the overtesting issue has arisen because there has been a disconnect between local and state assessments. i have sat through many school board meetings where the superintendent explains to the
board the state test results and their meaning and then describes their local assessment. these two sets of assessments and two accountability systems in some cases are redundant. our pace pilot braids these together. the result is less assessment overall with a more coherent system which provides benchmark information without sacrificing more actionable information at the classroom level. because of our work advancing competency-based learning model we understand the importance of creating freedom to innovate. starting with intensive professional development to raise the assessment literacy of our teachers. we are not ready to take it statewide but we hope to in the future. in new hampshire the live free or die state we believe that it is essential that local educational leaders help build the new system through
innovative efforts. it is the combination of state and local creative collaboration that helped us build a new stronger more effective assessment and accountability system. we applaud the draft version section k that allows for a locally designed assessment system in option two. however, we also believe that congress should establish parameters in the reauthorization to ensure that locally designed systems do not result in a step backwards for students. we expect assurances of technical quality and assessments necessary be put in place. within a state local districts wishing to innovate should be able to demonstrate that they are able to focus on college career outcomes and are committed to improving achievement. they should maintain a clearly described internal accountability process and have leadership necessary to effect substantive change process. with these parameters in place
we believe that educational improvements and innovative design will flourish throughout the life of the coming reauthorization. we in new hampshire greatly appreciate the opportunity to have our innovative educational practices considered by the committee. we look forward to the future of a speedy authorization of improved elementary and secondary education. >> thank you for this opportunity to be with you here this morning. my name is tom boesburg. i am superintendent of denver public schools. we have seen remarkable progress in the last decades under reform started by senator bennett at a time when he had a job with truly complex and challenging policy issues to grapple with. in that time we have increased our number of graduates by over 1,000 students a year increased on time graduation rate for our
african-american latino students by over 60%. we have gone from a school district with our students having the lowest rate of year on year student progress of any major district in the state to being now the district for three years in a row where our students on a student by student basis are demonstrating the highest rate of yearly academic progress. as a result our enrollment is booming as families come back to and stay in our schools. in the last seven years our enrollment has increased by a remarkable 25%. nevertheless we continue to have significant achievement gaps between our students based on income and race and ethnicity. we are determined to eliminate those achievement gaps. one key to our progress is our refusal to be imprisoned by debates and false complex. we need to focus on what works
for our kids. we can't be stuck in an either or world. the needs of our kids over 70% of whom qualify for free and reduced lunch are too great. what does that world look like? it's a world where we can dramatically improve our district schools, unleash creative energy of our teachers to open innovative new schools and at the same time welcome high performing charter schools, a world where both district run and charter schools work together as public schools to drive greater equity in our community. it is a world where we do measure the progress of our kids to see whether they are on track to graduate from high school prepared for college and career. it is also a world where we care deeply about nurturing and developing the whole child, expanding opportunities for arts and music, deepening interest and nurturing our kids'
physical, social and emotional growth. there does not need to be a conflict here. in fact the experiences show the schools that most emphasize a broad curriculum and promote creativity and critical thinking are the ones that do best in helping develop literacy abilities. when we went to denver voters two years ago for a tax increase the first thing we asked for was funding to increase arts, music and sports. as a parent of three kids and a superintendent for 90000 do i care about seeing the progress my kids make every year in literacy and math? of course i do. of course, i at the same time care deeply about opportunities in creative arts and social sciences and sports and their personal growth as members of our community. i do believe that annual measures of progress for our kids in literacy and math are
vital. at the same time as i have advocated in our state we need fewer and shorter tests. for example i do not see why we cannot have good measures of student progress that are limited to no more than three or four hours combined time for literacy and math per year, less than one half of 1% of classroom time. we need to eliminate other tests added that are unrelated to the law before this committee today. the new generation of assessments do a good job of helping us understand how our students are progressing in literacy and math. this transparency of how kids are doing is vital. vital for students for parents and for teachers. likewise having annual data about students' growth is vital to see what is working best in our schools. transparency and the holding of clear high standards are important for all kids but particularly for our kids in poverty and kids of color.
historically too many of our most vulnerable students have not been held to high standards that enable them to compete for and succeed in college and the knowledge intensive careers in today's economy and is absolutely essential that we do so. that is why accountability is also vital. not in a blaming or punishment sense but to recognize what is not working and make necessarily changes in the high stakes work we are all committed to to help children and families break out of poverty and help all kids realize the potential they are born with. as we celebrate the birthday of reverend martin luther king jr. i hope we can help all of our kids live in the both and world that they deserve. >> mr. henderson. good morning chairman alexander and members of the committee i am president and ceo
of the leadership conference on civil and human rights. the nation's leading coalition with over 200 national organizations working to build an america as good as its ideals. i'm also the professor of public interest law at the clark school of law university of district of columbia. i serve as the vice chair of the board of trustees of the educational testing service, the nation's premiere testing assessment nonprofit corporation. thank you for inviting me to testify on the reauthorization of the elementary and secondary education act. the civil and human rights community has long seen education and voter participation as the twin pillars of our democracy. together they help to make the promise of equality and opportunity for all a reality in american life. we welcome the opportunity that this important and timely hearing provides to look at ways
that we can improve esea and ensure that each and every child regardless of race national origin, gender sexual orientation, disability or zip code receives the best education that this great nation can provide. thank you for acknowledging the parents who have come in from around the country, states like washington, colorado, tennessee, minnesota, delaware to have their voices amplify the concerns that we reflect in our testimony today. significantly, this year we mark the 50th anniversary of esea which was a pillar of president lyndon johnson's war on poverty. congress recognized then and has for the past five decades that children living and going to school in poverty and especially those living in concentrated poverty need more not fewer resources than their more advantaged peers.
today we speak with one voice on behalf of all of our children girls and boys, students of color, students not yet profish in english, those who have disabilities or are homeless or migrant. those in the criminal juvenile justice system. we speak with deep concern and growing alarm about increasing child poverty, the persistent low achievement of students with disabilities and the growing income inequality enour nation particularly as they are reflected and reinforced by grotesque disparities in resources available to high and low poverty schools. education is more important today than before. a high school diploma is not just enough to access the jobs of today and tomorrow. students now need post secondary education or further training after high school. so we cannot ignore the fact that state and local school
financing systems have been unfair and inadequate. we know that money spent wisely can and will make an enormous difference in the ability of high poverty schools to prepare our students for college and career. we also know that money spent on high quality preschool is one of the best investments we could make. that's why a group of more than 20 national organizations created a set of principles which call on congress to maintain and improve strong accountability requirements. our approach to accountability is straightforward and sensible. first esea must continue to require high quality annual statewide assessments for all students in grades 3-8 and at least once in high school that are aligned with and measure each student's progress towards meeting the state's college and career ready standards. next statewide accountability
systems must support all students to make enough progress every year so that they are on track to graduate from high school ready for college and career. states must set annual district and school targets for grade level achievements. high school graduation and closing achievement gaps for all students including accelerated progress for each major racial and ethnic group, students with disabilities, english language learners and students from @r(t&háhp &hc% income families and evaluate schools and districts on how well they meet these targets. third, states and school districts need to improve data collection and reporting to the public on student achievement and gap closing course completion, graduation rates, per pupil expenditures, opportunity measures and school climate indicators including decreases in the use of exclusionary discipline practices, use of police in
schools and student referrals to law enforcement. this data must be disaggregated by all categories listed previously but notably disability gender race, national origin. i want to conclude by expressing serious concerns with your proposal as it is currently written. we have great respect for you but the proposal as we understand it today is detailed in our written testimony and it needs to be we hope addressed. the bill as a general manner bends over backwards to accommodate the interest of state and local government entities that have both failed our children and avoided any real accountability for failures. the federal government must continue to hold states and school districts accountable for the degree to which they are improving education for all students especially students who have been under served by the system for far too long. congress must not pass an esea.
>> you are well over. >> i will bring it to a conclusion. thank you for the opportunity to be here and i look forward to your questions. >> thank you. >> thank you chairman >> thank you, chairman alexander for your vision and for this opportunity to offer my remarks regarding the impact of testing and accountability on our public school children. i'm also a parent of a 6th grad grader and an 11-year-old. i want to provide some context of what i've learned about educational policies. the use of come pettive performance-based practices have long been assumed to motivate workers. microsoft, adobe are just some. the practice of applying rewards, consequences and rankings based on performance. these same business providers have informed many of our
nation's biggest esz districtgest districts, including mine. what was bad for business has been disast rousz forrous for public education. i've worked in different schools. some of them through no fault of their own have become increasingly day-driven as oppose today student-driven. unfortunately, founded on the principles of child education where we teachers collaborate, development curriculum. it is the antithesis of stack ranking. students develop questions around the origins of the united states, the constitution and discuss the complex struggles we have made an e as a mags. my class decided to divide themselves into three different groups from the clone ral era.
the native peoples, the european colonists and the african slaves. they are the researchers. my sbeintegrated, co-teaching classrooms consist of all abilities and they work in heterogeneous groups to present through a variety of mediums. they are learning how to learn. developing lifelong skills, researching, analyzing information from multiple sources, collaborating with others and sharing what they've learned in creative, and thought-provoking ways. they are the stewards of their learning. i've shown this not only as a best practice, but to em fa emphasize of trust, virtue and diversity. teachers working conditions are inextricably tied to students' learning conditions. when parents and educators have voice ds concerns of coddling.
the great focus on testing has taken valuable resources and time away from programming, social studies, arpts and fiscal education, special education, services and ell programs. at my school, we no longer have a librarian and our parent association works full time to arts and needed programs. they are not covered by a budget any longer. and we are one of the lucky schools. whablt schools where parents must work to just survive. there's nothing more pain chl to watch or forced to be come police sit with. who is left to receive these tests and accompanies sanctions. who are the children exceeding curricula while losing recessed education in all other enrichment programs.
>> i want to remind folks that the latin route of assessment means to sit alongside. until we have teachers and policymakers, sitting alongside and getting to know our students and classrooms in deep and meaningful ways we cannot fully understand the state of public education. and i sit here as a sole female, and this is a field sdom nated by women. no corporate-made multiple choice test will give you that data.
i am hopeful that we can sit alongside each other and do the hard work of answering the questions most central to our democracy. what is the purpose of public education in a democratic society. how can we ensure that all children receive enriching and an ekquitable education. and how do we support teachers and schools to edge kat all. i want to thank you and i appreciate all of your incoming questions. >> thank you, ms. lee. mr. lazar? >> senator alexander senate xx murray and distinguished members of this committee. it is an honor to testify before you all today. i come as a proud national board certified public high school teacher. i teach in a high school in new york city. my students who are listening to me now and i need to remind to
study for a history test tomorrow, represent the full diversity of our city. i'm also em bargsed to say i was a teacher who every may until last would get up to apologize to my students. i would tell them i've done my best job to be an comment teacher for you up until now. but, for the plast month of school, i'm going to turn into a bad teacher to properly prepare you for exams. we would then practice mindless rep tigsz of facts so that they could be successful on their state exams. i did this because standardized tests measure the wrong things. i did this because the states for my students force me to value three hours of testing over a year of learning. i did this because the standardized test was the only way for my students to demonstrate their learning to the government. right now, the federal insentives in education are wrong. because of this too many
schools are designed as mine once was. to get students to do well on a one-time test where a school should organize themselves around student learning. making the test the curriculum harms all students. but it does the most harm to those with the lowest skills. when i taught seniors in the bronx, i worked with the high esz-performing students. we read philosophical tests ranging from kant to nosik. at the same time i worked with the lowest-performing students who had yet to pass the state tests. with them, we did mindless test prep. and even though i was really good at it, getting a hundred percent of those students to pass their exams in my final year of doing it i was doing the students no favors. i think to this day about tee. a senior whoa could hadly write and struggled to read.
sure, she passed the test. but she was still not ready for the community college work she encountered that fall. when we focus our efforts only on helping struggling stunts jump over the hurdle of mandated kbams, the learning and opportunity gap widens. within consortium schools, high stakes are not an on-demand test, but a college-level performance-bassed assessment. students complete real and authentic disciplinary work, giving them significant advantage over others once they enter college. the consortium is widely successful with graduation and college success rates far exceeding the rates for all new york city public schools. models like the consortium need
to be able to exist and expand within any reauthorized esea bill. now, despite its many well-known flaws, no child left behind did include some important features that should not be abandoned. its desegregation of student achievement data has put a much-needed spotlight only how the education of american youth is negatively affected by economic and social inequality. that is why i believe that a staff opposed to any esa is misguided. yes, every student must count. especially our stunts with the greatest needs. but we can do this without testing every kid, every year.
limit the number of tests used for accountability purposes and allow schools to use more sophisticated assessment tools such as performance assessments. to do this requires a better balance of government and role and education with that in local decision-making. federal and state governments need to recognize that the best educational decisions for students are made by those who possess the fullest and deepest understanding of their needs. edge cay tor's voitss need to be the loudest on how students are tested and when students are tested. senate xxs, my students and colleagues and i are all inspired on how to improve the education of all of our nation's students. it is time to fix our broken system of steszing and acountability. >> thank you very much.
this has been an extraordinary viert of views. it's very helpful to us as senate xxs. and i thank senator murray and the staffs for working and having presented all of those points of views. you all get an a for sticking to five minutes. we'll see if the senators do, as well, as the time comes. i'll take my five minutes and senator murray and then after that, senator collins senator warren senator robert, senator bennett will be first four. we'll go by first arrival and conclude by noon.
>> my my view there's a clear federal role -- >> i have to refresh myself. >> so seven tests in matt, three for reading once in years three through eight and then once in high school. and then three tests in siensz once in three through five and once in grade 6 through nine and once in high school. and these are 17 tests that must be used by law, as the primary means of determining the yearly
academic performance of the state and each school district and school in the state: but those right-hand turn the only tests that kids take. that's one spot light we ought to put on today. for example, the excellence in education foundation in florida reported that in florida, in addition to the 17 federal tests, there are between 8 and 200 tests administered in schools each year on top of those tests. those are administered by the state government. and required by local government. in lee county florida which is ft. milers, there were 183 state and local tests in addition to the 17 federal tests. when this report put the spotlight on, they said oh maybe that's too many tests and they started giving fewer tests.
i think i'd like to have your thoughts on whether the culprit is the 17 tests or whether it's all the state and local tests? or is it because of the high stakes in the federal 17 tests that that's causing the state and local governments to create so many local tests. i think the most difficult issue we have to figure out is testing and accountability issue. testing with goals, standards, and then the accountability is what are the consequences? what is the devil in addition of failure? and what are the consequences of failure.
really, the debate is who decides that? >> that is an accurate summary of my recommendation. as i said, we don't have great data on the amount of testing that's going on for various purposes everywhere around the nation. i do think a lot of those tests are because those exams carry so much weight with how their schools are going to be treated by the accountability system. that sets up unrealistic expectations with respect to student achievement. those expectations are most challenge ing challenging for schools that serve students.
>> i'll go on in my 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 a lot of extra tests? >> in new hampshire, we just require the basic federal expect tagsz of the 17 tests, plus we have alternative assessments for students with disabilities as well as students with english language learns. >> we have adopted other tests urging that the state not require those adigszal tests, beyond, again, annual test inging in third through tent grade.
mr. hnderson since no child left mind passed in 2001 we have seen the gap for students in reading and matt and the dropout rate for those students has been cut in half. i wanted you to talk a little bit about what ewe saw the role of the secretary of education acts assessmented and acountability provisions played in narrowing those achievement gaps. it's a very important question, senator murray. thanks for asking it e it. we have seen man dated under esea under no child left behind have helped to push greater akoubtblety on the part of state systems to address the particular needs of poor students and students of color. we fear that there will be a roll back of requirements that
are otherwise producing the positive results that you have identified. we have seen, for example, in the states given waivers under the previous law, in many instances, those waivers have allowed the state systems to avoid the kind of meaningful acountability that drives the kind of change that you've talked about. you mexed the mentioned the prolif rax of states at the local level. but i think the federal level have been so important in producing the kind of high school and career-ready graduation rates that are really important. you know look, i started school when brown versus the board of education was still decided. tlfgs a tremendous absence of the kind of consistent standards that helped to produce the kind of change that we have seen and that senator murray has cited.
and in the absence of esea standards, i am convinced that there will be the use of title i funds for students who do not otherwise qualify. and they step back from the federal government's commitment to ensure the positive results. so it makes a difference. >> mr. henderson what improvements would you recommend as we reaut rise to close that achievement gap? >> certainly, we have many schools that lack the kind of financial equity and commitment to students that either their state constitution requires or that common sense for purposes of producing positive results would require.
senator casey, i've seen the same thing in pennsylvania where the failure of the previous goef nor to invest in resources to address the problem the short coming in fundsing of schools has been cig nef cant. so, in my judgment these standards helped to drive the kind of investments that states must make in their educational system to ensure that their students do meet the challenges of today and prepare to meet the challenges of form. what i would hope is that there would be restrictions on the casual use for title i funding for students who are not eligible and to require that those funds be used precisely for what they're intending. and that is to help the poorest of students. >> thank you. you mentioned that your classroom, that is aparentally watching you is very diverse in terms of their backgrounds and learning performances.
so we design tasks that are accessible to a range of learners but that allow a range of performances. so this includes something like when we were studying the declaration of independence earlier. i gave students some adaptive readings to historians. they would be accessible to all students and they had to write an argument about e about what the declaration of independence means. so that's a task that somebody reading on a fourth grade level can say something intelligent about. but my students who are doing better work now than i did even a few years into college are able to approach that task in a really sophisticated way. we used that to inform what happens in our classrooms. we use that to inform how we professionally develop our teachers. and then we judge ourselves bassed on how students are doing in similar tasks plater in the year.
so we're measuring groult so that we're not just happy with some kids making progress. we're looking at all of our students. even the ones who are doing amazingly well in ensuring that we are continuing to push them as well as the students who are struggling. >> thank you very much. >> senator collins? >> thank you e thank you, mr. chairman. first, mr. chairman and raenging member senator murray let motel 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. in 2005 former senator olympia snow and i, in response to a lot of concerns about the law, put together an nclb task
force to evaluate the impact of the raw made. and we had parents, teachers educational specialists, superintendents, school board members, it was really a broad group. and the task force identified several unintended consequences, laws of teaching time, misinterpretation of the meaning of schools classified as failing when they didn't make adequate process and the scape goating of certain groups. our task force needed greater
for exampleblety. and they recommended allowing sfats to measure student progress over grade span and to track student growth over time. as we know, the current measures schools grade by grade as well as comparing this year's fourth graders with last year's fourth graders. the approach that was recommending essentially is looking at the same students and seeing whether they have progressed which intrigues me. before the no child left behind law was passed, that was the approach used in maine. and it allowed maine to track the progress of individual students and gave teachers greater flexibility.&bay
my question to each of you, and some of you who have touched on this is do you believe that given states the flexibility of grade-use testing, which is used now for science would help with concerns about overtesting that have been expressed? or would the result be that we decrease acountability. >> i think it would be difficult to sdwop a fair grade span of testing. it becomes more difficult with the progress that individuals look at over a point in time.
those kind of systems wind up yielding very inaccurate information about the school's effectiveness. >> thank you. >> i would add is that we really need consistency. we need to make sure that every student and every parent receives annual information on how their child is performing academically. we do not want to go back to a system where parents really have to guess on the off-year how
their student is doing. there's lots of reasons why that could happen. that students fall behind. and their growth is really impeded in successive years. i think the more we keep track of how students are doing, the better off those students are going to be, the better off their parents are going to be in terms of their expectations. >> okay. thank you. i'd echo professor west's comments and agree with you bassed on the importance of growth. the importance of measuring the same students as they grow from one year to the next. that is what's most relevant. i's not how this year's fourth graders did against last year's fourth graders. it's how did those students do from one year to the next. you do need annual measurements in order to be able to see that growth. to measure someone in fifth good day gra and not to see them until eighth grade there's so much that intervenes. if you're the parent of a kid
who's a year ahead of grade level, you don't gist want to be told oh, that kids a standard. that means that kid may e might have lost the entire year of learning chlts you want to see how much growth did that high achieving student make. likewise, those students need to catch up. just to say oh, there's still not a standard. you want to know how much have they grown? are they on a trajectory. hopefully, within a short period of time, to get back on full track to be ready to graduate prepared for post-secondary. so we do think without annual measurements, you sitly can't measure growth in a meaningful way. >> mr. chairman, i note that i'm over my time. could i have the rest respond for the record, if you want? >> i appreciate you saying that.
every senator uses 4 1/2 minutes and then says what do you all think. it's been done before. [ laughter ] >> so we want to know what you think. but i'd like to invite the other three witnesses. can you give a su singt answer to your thought and then supplement it later? >> mr. chairman, thank you. i'll be very brief. i'll associate the remarks of my colleagues who have already spoken about the importance of annual assessments as a way of determining progress. i will also mention student who is come to school under those circumstances. there are other factors including school discipline that often runs amuck.
sew i'd like to amplify that: i will submit additional comments. thank you. >> i want to argue that teachers assess every day in multiple ways. these standardized assessments that you speak of can only measure right or wrong-type questions. in new york state these scores have changed from year-to-year. it makes them flawed and invalid. >> what we do need to be focused on is fourth graders.
i think we do need to assess regularly. i think parents need information about how schools are doing year-to-year. i don't think the federal or state government need accountability to yearly tests. let's have that as small and little intrusion as posz. >> thank you. >> senator warren? >> thank you, mr. warren. i look forward to working with you and member murray on this committee this year. the federal government provides billions of dollars every year. and it's a lot of money. so i think we should start with
acountability, the acountability of the states that take this money. if the states are going to get federal tax dollars, we need to make sure that they're not being wasted. 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. so, mr. busburg, you've review ed the republican draft proposal. are you confident that the states will be held acountable? >> i do agree that accountability is important. acountability in the sense that needing to make change that when schools are failing and where kids right-hand turn graduating,
there has to be change. that change is difficult. it's zeshl that change happen. i do believe that accountability is very important. our system, in denver actually looks at student growth looks at disaggregated data and looks at things like grajsuation rates. people have spoken about the importance of multiple measures that i agree with. >> all a state would have to do is submit a plan with a bunch of prom proms with no proof that the promises are ever kept. and the department of education would lose any meaningful tools to make sure that the states actually follow through on this.
do you see anything in this proposal to make sure that the states who take this money actually are the kids who need this money most? >> i think the bill would allow this draft to repurpose title one funding. without any measurable accountable accountability, you know, interestingly enough, your point about taxpayer accountability was just reinforced within the last several days by the george w. bush institute which i shall shoed a report under the infrastructure of martha spellings for purposes of ensuring that dollars and