[xmca] Linda Darling Hammond's testimony on No Child Left Behind

From: Peter Smagorinsky <smago who-is-at uga.edu>
Date: Thu Sep 13 2007 - 04:13:48 PDT

>Testimony before the House Education and Labor Committee on the
>Re-Authorization of No Child Left Behind Linda Darling-Hammond
>September 10, 2007
>Congressman Miller, Congressman McKeon and members of the Committee.
>Thank you for this opportunity to testify on the draft bill to
>re-authorize No Child Left Behind. I am Linda Darling-Hammond, Charles
>E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford University and
>co-director of the Stanford Educational Leadership Institute and the
>School Redesign Network. I was also the founding Executive Director of
>the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, and have
>spent many years studying policies and practices in the U.S. and around
>the world that support stronger curriculum, assessment, teaching and
>I want also to thank the Committee for its openness and commitment to
>the democratic process in having shared a public draft of the
>re-authorization bill prior to finalizing the bill. This move shows a
>respect and consideration for the public that is appreciated by those
>who care deeply about our nation's education system.
>While the very complex NCLB legislation has many elements that deserve
>attention and ongoing revision, I am sure you will hear about those
>from many others. I want to focus my testimony this morning on three
>key elements of the law:
>1. The provisions to encourage multiple
>measures of assessment and multiple indicators of school progress,
>which I believe are essential to raise standards and strengthen
>educational quality in ways that are internationally competitive;
>2. The provisions to improve the quality and
>distribution of the teaching force, which are also essential to our
>ability to reach the high goals this Congress would like to establish
>for our nation's schools, and
>3. The means for measuring school progress from
>year to year, which I believe need to become more publicly
>comprehensible and more closely focused on evaluating continuing
>progress for students and schools.
>My comments are based on studies of U.S. education and of the education
>systems of other countries that are outperforming the U.S. by larger
>and larger margins every year. For example, in the most recent PISA
>assessments, the U.S. ranked 19th out of 40 countries in reading, 20th
>in science, and 28th in math (on a par with Latvia), outscored by
>nations like Finland, Sweden, Canada, Hong Kong, South Korea, the
>Netherlands, Japan, and Singapore (which did not participate in PISA
>but scored at the top of the TIMSS rankings) that are investing
>intensively in the kinds of curriculum and assessments and the kinds of
>teaching force improvements that we desperately need and that this
>re-authorization bill is seeking to introduce.
> Reading
>South Korea
>New Zealand
>U.S. ranks # 19 / 40
>Scientific Literacy
>Hong Kong
>South Korea
>Czech Republic
>U.S. ranks #20 / 40
>Hong Kong
>South Korea
>Macao (China)
>U.S. ranks #28 / 40 It is worth noting that PISA assessments focus
>explicitly on 21st century skills, going beyond the question posed by
>most U.S. standardized tests, "Did students learn what we taught them?"
>to ask, "What can students do with what they have learned?" PISA
>defines literacy in mathematics, science, and reading as students'
>abilities to apply what they know to new problems and situations. This
>is the kind of higher-order learning that is increasingly emphasized in
>other nations' assessment systems, but often discouraged by the
>multiple-choice tests most states have adopted under the first
>authorization of No Child Left Behind. Underneath the United States'
>poor standing is an outcome of bhigher-order thinking and
>problem-solving, the areas where all groups in the U.S. do least well
>on international tests.
>In addition to declines in performance on international assessments,
>the U.S. has slipped in relation to other countries in terms of
>graduation rates and college-going. Most European and Asian countries
>that once educated fewer of their citizens now routinely graduate
>virtually all of their students. Meanwhile, the U.S. has not improved
>graduation rates for a quarter century, and graduation rates are now
>going down as requirements for an educated workforce are going steeply
>up. According to an ETS study, only about 69% of high school students
>graduated with a standard diploma in 2000, down from 77% in 1969. Of
>the 60% of graduates who go onto college, only about half graduate from
>college with a degree. In the end, less than 30% of an age cohort in the
>gains a college degree. For students of color, the pipeline leaks more
>profusely at every juncture. Only about 17% of African American young
>people between the ages of 25 and 29 - and only 11% of Hispanic youth
>-- had earned a college degree in 2005, as compared to 34 % of white
>youth in the same age bracket.
>And whereas the U.S. was an unchallenged 1st in the world in higher
>education participation for many decades, it has slipped to 13th and
>college participation for our young people is declining. Just over
>one-third of U.S. young adults are participating in higher education,
>most in community colleges. Meanwhile, the countries belonging to the
>Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which are
>mostly European, now average nearly 50% participation in higher
>education, and most of these students are in programs leading to a
>bachelors degree. Similarly in Southeast Asia, enormous investments in
>both K-12 and higher education have steeply raised graduation rates
>from high school as well as college-going rates.
>The implications of these trends are important for national economies.
>A recent OECD report found that for every year that the average
>schooling level of the population is raised, there is a corresponding
>increase of 3.7% in long-term economic growth, a statistic worth
>particular note while the U.S. is going backwards in educating its
>citizens, and most of the rest of the world is moving forward.
> What are High-Achieving Nations Doing?
>Funding. Most high-achieving countries not only provide high-quality
>universal preschool and health care for children, they also fund their
>schools centrally and equally, with additional funds to the neediest
>schools. By contrast, in the U.S., the wealthiest school districts
>spend nearly ten times more than the poorest, and spending ratios of 3
>to 1 are common within states. These disparities reinforce the wide
>inequalities in income among families, with the most resources being
>spent on children from the wealthiest communities and the fewest on the
>children of the poor, especially in high-minority communities.
>Teaching. Furthermore, high-achieving nations intensively support a
>better-prepared teaching force - funding competitive salaries and
>high-quality teacher education, mentoring, and ongoing professional
>development for all teachers, at government expense. Countries which
>rarely experience teacher shortages (such as Finland, Sweden, Norway,
>Netherlands, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore)
>have made substantial investments in teacher training and equitable
>teacher distribution in the last two decades. These include:
>1 High-quality pre-service teacher education, completely free of
>charge to all candidates, including a year of practice teaching in a
>clinical school connected to the university,
>2 Mentoring for all beginners in their first year of teaching
>from expert teachers, coupled with other supports like a reduced
>teaching load and shared planning,
>3 Salaries which are competitive with other professions, such as
>engineering and are equstipends for hard-to-staff locations),
>4 Ongoing professional learning embedded in 10 or more hours a
>week of planning and professional development time.
> Leaders in Finland attribute the country's dramatic climb
>from the bottom of the international rankings to the very top to
>intensive investments in teacher education. Over ten years the country
>overhauled preparation to focus more on teaching for higher-order
>skills and teaching diverse learners - including a strong emphasis on
>those with special needs - and created a funding stream to provide a
>3-year graduate level preparation program to all teacher candidates
>free of charge and with a living stipend, a full year of training in a
>professional development school site - rather like the residency
>promoted in this draft bill, intensive mentoring once in the classroom,
>and more than ten hours a week of professional learning time in school,
>where teachers collaborate on lesson planning and on the development
>and scoring of local performance assessments that are the backbone of
>the country's assessment system.
> In high-achieving Singapore, which I recently visited as
>part of a review team for the Institute of Education, students from the
>top 1/3 of the high school class are recruited into a 4-year teacher
>education program (or, if they enter later, a one-year graduate
>program) and immediately put on the Ministry's payroll as employees.
>They are paid a stipend while they are in training (which is free for
>them) and are paid at a rate that is higher than beginning doctors when
>they enter the profession. There they receive systematic mentoring
>from expert teachers once they begin teaching. Like all other teachers
>in Singapore, the government pays for 100 hours of professional
>development annually in addition to the 20 hours a week they have to
>work with other teachers and visit each others' classrooms to study
>teaching. As they progress through the career, there are 3 separate
>career ladders they can pursue, with support from the government for
further training:
>developing the skills and taking on the responsibilities of curriculum
>specialists, teaching / mentoring specialists, or prospective
> Curriculum and Assessment. Finally, these high-achieving
>nations focus their curriculum on critical thinking and problem
>solving, using examinations that require students to conduct research
>and scientific investigations, solve complex real-world problems in
>mathematics, and defend their ideas orally and in writing. In most
>cases, their assessment systems combine centralized (state or national)
>assessments that use mostly open-ended and essay questions and local
>assessments given by teachers, which are factored into the final
>examination scores. These local assessments - which include research
>papers, applied science experiments, presentations of various kinds,
>and projects and products that students construct -- are mapped to the
>syllabus and the standards for the subject and are selected because
>they represent critical skills, topics, and concepts. They are often
>suggested and outlined in the curriculum, but they are generally
>designed, administered, and scored locally.
> An example of such assessments can be found in Appendix A,
>which shows science assessments from high-achieving Victoria, Australia
>and Hong Kong - which use very similar assessment systems -- in
>comparison to traditional multiple choice or short answer items from
>the United States. Whereas students in most parts of the U.S. are
>typically asked simply to memorize facts which they need to recognize
>in a list answers, or give short answers which are also just
>one-sentence accounts of memorized facts, students in Australia and
>Hong Kong (as well as other high-achieving nations) are asked to apply
>their knowledge in the ways that scientists do.
> The item from the Victoria, Australia biology test, for
>example, describes a particular virus to students, asks them to design
>a drug to kill tdiagrams), and then to design an experiment to test
>the drug. This
>state test in Victoria comprises no more than 50% of the total
>examination score. The remaining components of the examination score
>come from required assignments and assessments students undertake
>throughout the year - lab experiments and investigations as well as
>research papers and presentations - which are designed in response to
>the syllabus. These ensure that they are getting the kind of learning
>opportunities which prepare them for the assessments they will later
>take, that they are getting feedback they need to improve, and that
>they will be prepared to succeed not only on these very challenging
>tests but in college and in life, where they will have to apply
>knowledge in these ways.
> Locallymanaged performance assessments that get students
>to apply their knowledge to real-world problems are critically to
>important to the teaching and learning process. They allow the testing
>of more complex skills that cannot be measured in a two-hour test on a
>single day. They shape the curriculum in ways that ensure stronger
>learning opportunities. They give teachers timely, formative
>information they need to help students improve -- something that
>standardized examinations with long lapses between administration and
>results cannot do. And they help teachers become more knowledgeable
>about the standards and how to teach to them, as well as about their
>own students and how they learn. The process of using these assessments
>their teaching and their students' learning. The processes of
>collective scoring and moderation that many nations or states use to
>ensure reliability in scoring also prove educative for teachers, who
>learn to calibrate their sense of the standards to common benchmarks.
> The power of such assessments for teaching and learning is
>suggested by the fact that ambitious nations are consciously increasing
>the use of school-based performance assessments in their systems. Hong
>Kong, Singapore, and several Australian states have intensive efforts
>underway to expand these assessments. England, Canada, Sweden, and the
>Netherlands have already done so. Locally managed performance
>assessments comprise the entire assessment system in top-ranked Finland
>and in Queensland and ACT, Australia - the highest-achieving states in
>that high-achieving nation.
> These assessments are not used to rank or punish schools,
>or to deny promotion or diplomas to students. (In fact, several
>countries have explicit proscriptions against such practices). They
>are used to evaluate curriculum and guide investments in professional
>learning -- in short, to help schools improve. By asking students to
>show what they know through real-world applications of knowledge, these
other nations'
>assessment systems encourage serious intellectual activities that are
>currently being discouraged in U.S. schools by the tests many states
>have adopted under NCLB.
>How NCLB can Help the United States Become Educationally Competitive
> Multiple Measures and Performance Assessments. The
>proposals in the re-authorization draft to permit states to use a
>broader set of assessments and to encourage the development and use of
>performance assessments are critical to creating a globally competitive
>curriculum in U.S. schools. We need to encourage our states to
>evaluate the higher-order thinking and performance skills that leading
>nations emphasize in their systems, and we need to create incentives
>that value keeping students in school through graduation as much as
>producing apparently high average scores at the school level.
> Many states developed systems that include state and
>locally-administered performance assessments as part of their efforts
>to develop standards under Goals 2000 in the 1990s. (These states
>included Connecticut, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Nebraska, New
>Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Rhode Island,
>Washingtonand Wyoming, among others.) Not coincidentally, these
>include most of the highest-achieving states in the U.S. on the
>National Assessment of Educational Progress. Indeed, the National
>Science Foundation provided millions of dollars for states to develop
>such hands-on science and math assessments as part of its Systemic Science
Initiative in the 1990s, and
>prototypes exist all over the country. One such measure -- a science
>investigation requiring students to design, conduct, analyze, and write
>up results for an experiment -- currently used as a state science
>assessment in Connecticut (a top-ranked state in both science and
>writing) is included with the assessment examples in Appendix A.
> Researchers learned that such assessments can be managed
>productively and reliably scored with appropriate training and
>professional development for teachers, along with moderation and
>auditing systems, and that teaching and student achievement improve
>when such assessments are used.
> However, the initial years of NCLB have discouraged the
>use and further development of these assessments, and have narrowed the
>curriculum both in terms of the subjects and kinds of skills taught.
>NCLB's rapidly implemented requirement for every-child every-year
>testing created large costs and administrative challenges that have
>caused some states to abandon their performance assessments for
>machine-scored, multiple choice tests that are less expensive to score
>and more easily satisfy the law. In addition, the Department of
>Education has discouraged states from using such assessments. When
>Connecticut sued the federal government for the funds needed to
>maintain its sophisticated performance assessments on an every-child
>every-year basis, the Department suggested the state drop these tasks -
>which resemble those used in high-scoring nations around the world --
>for multiple choice tests. Thus the administration of the law is
>driving the U.S. curriculum in the opposite direction from what a 21st
>century economy requires.
>Full document can be seen at

xmca mailing list
Received on Thu Sep 13 03:15 PDT 2007

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Mon Oct 08 2007 - 06:02:26 PDT