University Place principal emphasizes benefits of NCLB – and proves that it works

Yesterday we noted this U.S. Chamber of Commerce report on the positive effects of the No Child Left Behind law’s requirements for assessment, public reporting of data, and accountability for performance. 

Today, much closer to home, appears an op-ed in The News Tribune by Curtis High School (University Place) principal Eric Brubaker.

In University Place Schools, and across our nation, efforts to comply with NCLB have led to higher student achievement and graduation rates for minority students. For the first time since NCLB required tracking of subgroup performance, Curtis High School graduation rates for minority students surpassed our overall school average of 88.8 percent – eliminating long-standing gaps in these rates.

Both Hispanic students (89.5 percent) and students of two or more races (88.9 percent) outperformed white students (86.8 percent).

The most significant increase in graduation rate was seen among African-American students at Curtis, where 92.9 percent of students graduated in 2014 – a rate more than 20 points higher than 2003 (one year after Congress last updated NCLB).

There’s more and we encourage you to read the whole thing. Key message:

… clear, timely and accessible achievement data for all students must continue. As a high school principal, I believe that common sense accountability –based in regular testing – has an important place in a reauthorized NCLB.

Ultimately, graduation and achievement gains are earned by students with the support of loving parents, talented teachers, and dedicated support staff and administrators who are committed to the core principle of No Child Left Behind: that all students should have the opportunity to learn.

We said something similar in our research plan.
Washington must also continue to make gains in student achievement by closing achievement gaps between groups of students and raising the high school graduation rate. These efforts will ensure every student is prepared for life-long career success in a dynamic economy, capable of fully realizing the abundant opportunities for rewarding civic, community, and workplace achievement.
Congratulations to the team (students, parents, teachers, support staff and administrators) at CHS for their outstanding performance.

New evidence that annual assessments and accountability improve student learning

The U.S. Chamber reports that academic achievement for disadvantaged students has improved under the No Child Left Behind reforms.  The chamber points specifically to requirements for annual assessments, public reporting of data, and accountability. The following chart tells the story.

1 Graduation chart


Meanwhile, Washington Education Association members are rallying to push for higher pay and full funding of the four-year, $4.7 billion unfunded mandate imposed by Initiative 1351, narrowly adopted last fall. Among their concerns…

[WEA president Kim] Mead said the teacher-evaluation bill, which has passed the state Senate but not the House, is a distraction from the work lawmakers should be doing to comply with McCleary [the state Supreme Court full-funding of basic education opinion].

The teacher evaluation bill has the strong bipartisan support of education reform groups and major editorial boards in the state. It’s not a distraction.
Improving education outcomes is a major Opportunity Washington priority. The teacher evaluation legislation is an important element of the reform agenda, as the national data cited by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce demonstrate.



Editorials: House should follow Senate’s lead, use student performance in teacher, principal evaluations

A couple of strong editorial statements on recovering the state’s lost No Child Left Behind waiver. (We wrote about it here.)

The News Tribune asks: Will House drop its cowardice, regain school funds? The paper notes that last year, spurred by opposition from the Washington Education Association, the state lost its waiver because it failed to incorporate student test scores in teacher and principal evaluations. This, even though the statewide tests could amount to as little as 1 percent of the evaluation. This year, the Senate acted to bring the state into compliance. The editorial closes:

now the House has a chance to demonstrate its loyalties. We don’t know yet where those loyalties lie, but we know where they belong: with kids from poor families, not union leaders with rich war chests.

Strong stuff. 

The Seattle Times also urges swift House action.

Most educators and lawmakers, state and federal, agree that reforming NCLB is the best solution, but that could take years to happen.

In the meantime, the House should take a cue from the Senate and give the teacher-evaluations bill full consideration instead of letting political ideologies and alliances come before the needs of students.

It’d be a shame to close this post without linking to this good news story about Rainier Beach High School

Tangled in bureaucracy and tradition, public schools need years — often the better part of a decade — for real turnaround, so skeptics may wave off the spike in graduation rates at Rainier Beach High as a mere blip.

Or ignore its ballooning enrollment.

Or shrug at the dozens of students on track to leave with college credit for advanced studies.

In the past two years, all of these things have happened at Seattle’s long-languishing South End school, and all trace back to the moment when Rainier Beach gambled on a rigorous curriculum with a fancy name and high-end pedigree: the International Baccalaureate.

Read it. Success stories are good for the soul.


State Senate passes bill to include student performance in teacher evaluations, regain NCLB waiver

Washington last year became the first state to lose its No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver as a result of failing to include student test scores in teacher and principal evaluations.

The Senate has acted to remedy that problem, passing SB 5748 on a vote of 26-23. The bill includes federally mandated student assessments as one of the multiple measures of student growth in teacher and principal evaluations. 

Melissa Santos reports in the Olympian,

The legislation, Senate Bill 5748, would let local school districts and their teacher unions negotiate how the standardized test scores are used in evaluations and how much weight they would be given.

…Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island, said he is confident that Washington would regain its No Child Left Behind waiver if the full Legislature approves Senate Bill 5748 and it is signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee.

He and other supporters of the measure said they have seen local school districts suffer since they were forced to set aside 20 percent of their Title I money due to loss of the state’s waiver.

As Leah Todd writes in the Seattle Times, lawmakers had to overcome union opposition to the plan.

Washington Education Association President Kim Mead reacted quickly after the vote Wednesday, saying in a statement she is ashamed of the lawmakers who voted for the bill.

“They sold out our students,” Mead said.

The measure now goes to the state House. 

Opportunity Washington cited the NCLB waiver loss previously, saying 

Washington must take steps to ensure that the very best teachers are in every classroom, every day. The state can meet that challenge by continuing to assess teacher performance, providing opportunities for current teachers to enhance their skills, making assessment of student outcomes a factor in personnel evaluation, and ensuring principals have authority to hire the best teachers.

Yet lawmakers failed to adopt legislation in 2014 that would have required statewide test scores to be considered as part of teacher evaluations. As a result, Washington was the first state to lose its No Child Left Behind waiver, which means that districts lost control over how to spend approximately $40 million in federal funds.

The Senate legislation adds important information to the assessment process, advancing the goal of making sure “the very best teachers are in every classroom, every day.”