WASHINGTON, Sept. 5 — Education Secretary Margaret Spellings on Wednesday criticized a Congressional proposal to soften provisions of President’s Bush signature education law, saying it would severely weaken the federal effort to raise achievement among poor and minority children.
In a speech before a business group and at a news conference, Ms. Spellings said that a series of proposals in draft legislation circulated by Democrats and Republicans on the House education committee, taken together, would allow states to remove children from testing regimes and tutoring services, and would make it too difficult for parents to know whether students and schools are making progress.
“It’s just too darn confusing,” Ms. Spellings said of the draft bill....
Ms. Spellings weighed in as the House and Senate prepare to push the law to renewal this month. The House draft would preserve the goal of bringing students to proficiency by 2014 but would broaden the ways schools could demonstrate student progress.
Rather than relying solely on reading and math scores, schools could include tests in other subjects, attendance and graduation rates. It would also distinguish between schools that broadly fail to meet annual goals and those that fall slightly short.
Ms. Spellings complained that proposals to change various provisions of the law “could be a significant retreat from accountability.”
Passing no bill at all this year, she added, would be preferable to passing one that dilutes the law’s power because the current version stays in force until Congress passes a new law...
...In the letter she also criticized a provision of the draft, sought by states with large immigrant populations, that would allow schools to test non-English speakers in their native language for up to five years, instead of the current three. “That’s simply too long,” she wrote, “this would allow a third-grade student to reach the tenth grade before ever being tested in English.” ...
...The Senate is also planning to release a bill updating No Child Left Behind this month.
This from the New York Times.