Thursday, August 23, 2007

Do Romney and everyone else agree on testing?

It's no mystery that Mitt Romney likes states' rights. But how far would he go to hand over local control on NCLB's big testing requirements?

The law has always been problematic for conservatives, of course, and as this AP story relates, Romney on Wednesday said education is "an area in which states should have a strong voice." While he supports NCLB's role in fingering failing schools, he told an interviewer that he wants "greater state flexibility in the (student) testing process."

"We've suffered too many years of Washington politicians thinking they know the best for people of other states," he told the AP.

Flexibility in the testing process? Romney didn't elaborate, but it sounds an awful lot like what Margaret Spellings has been toying with for years. And it sounds like something we heard Rep. George Miller say a few weeks ago.

You may recall that Miller, the California Democrat, laid out his vision for the new NCLB at the National Press Club on July 30. Tests, he said, should "include multiple measures of success. These measures can no longer reflect just basic skills and memorization. Rather, they must reflect critical thinking skills and the ability to apply knowledge to new and challenging contexts."

Miller also said: "The legislation I will introduce will contain a growth model that gives credit to states and schools for the progress that their students make over time."

Then there's Joe Biden's website: "Biden has been a champion of educational reforms that include greater flexibility in evaluating performance."

A couple of presidential candidates, of course, have come out saying they'd trash NCLB, but does anybody disagree that these tweaks are necessary and (probably) forthcoming?

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