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tv   Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  October 21, 2011 6:00am-7:00am EDT

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drafted does provide additional flexibility. it also retains the requirement that the secretary approve whatever the state chooses to do in this regard. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011] >> mr. chairman? >> senator. >> i wasn't here earlier when the burr amendment was discussed, but if there has been any issue that has been brought up in alaska with concerns about
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the proposals that we've seen, it has been the four turn-around models and the requirement that is contained therein. in our state, in our small, remote rural schools, father -- part of our biggest problem is getting the information out there. a bigger problem is getting administrators out there and keeping them out there. we have had a problem with lack of flexibility with the turn-around model. i would endorse the amendment that adds greater flexibility and give that to the states to determine what it is that would work best in their areas. >> senator bennett.
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and then franken. >> i would do this as a question . one of the concerns -- i appreciate the spirit of the amendment. one of the concerns that i have with it, and i have not made up my mind yet, is that even under the current law -- i should say, i agree with everything senator murkowski said about rural schools, but even under the current law there really is a loophole in the school reconfiguration that basically says "other." you can do this, you can do that, or you can essentially do nothing. and what happens is our kids are in school year after year after year and that actually never changes. i think one of the important levers of no child left behind is it focuses people on knees turn-around models. some we have done well, and some
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we have done poorly, but we have learned from that experience, and i wonder -- i don't know if you have any thoughts, senator alexander, about how to make sure that the secretary, whoever it is, because you and i have a similar view on the current secretary, i think, is going to actually apply this in a way that creates rigor rather than just let's people off the hook. >> i don't know anyway other than the ballot box to effect that. i mean, it depends on who the secretary is. i think the goal of this is to -- i mean, we have focused on 5% of the schools.
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that's schools we should work on to turn around at one time. it is a lot of schools, if you get down to a practical level. i can easily see a situation where the education commissioner or the colorado commissioner might look at the four or five or the six federally proscribed turn-around models or the alaska commissioner might say i have a much better idea of that, or that doesn't fit me or you might have done the same when you were in denver. i'm sure arnie duncan would not let you do the same thing. this is a deference toward local initiative. any time you decentralize things, you have uneven results. there is no doubt about that. in our higher education, we are decentralized, and we have the best higher education system
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because of it. if i were superintendent i would not want to know what method to use. i would want to figure out my own. i would be willing to consider anything the federal government told me to do. i would not mind persuading the education secretary that it was a good idea, and i would expect him to further my agenda, unless i was lazy and incompetent. >> what we're talking about here is the bottom 5%. i'm not talking about every school in america. we have again reduced the federal footprint. we want to identify those bottom 5%. we expanded the turn-around model from 4% to 6%. the other option is not rigorous. we always want to do the least possible to get through. well, ok, but that was covered
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in every school. we're not doing that now. we're only focusing on the bottom 5%, the drop-out factors. my friend from tennessee is always talking about not having a secretary who is a czar. we're talking about schools in the bottom 5% to come up with some other option and let the secretary decide. it seems to me that we are trying to pass legislation that transcends whoever the secretary might be. it might be arnie duncan, it might be someone else. who knows who the secretary might be. i would also say we would like to insulate the secretary from those of us in the senate or the
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house and those of us in important committees like appropriations and things like that saying i have this school district and they have this other option, and i'd sure like you to approve it. i would like to insulate the secretary from that type of political pressure that might come in that regard. that's why i think we worked very hard and very long on this. we have a lot of input on this, in terms of the turn-around model. those turn-around models should be evidence based and rigorous. and i don't know what the other option might be, whether it is going to be rigorous or whether it is going to be evidence based or not.
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we do do that for that. i would also add that this amendment doesn't just add another model, it provides all requirements. >> i want to make sure the amendment is drafted correctly then. >> i'm not withdrawing it. i would like to have a vote on it. i thought i heard you say that it struck the first six options. it doesn't intend to do that. >> mr. chairman, even if it is not withdrawn, i still want to come in, in support of this
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amendment. the six options in the bill are those that the local school district gets to select from to choose the criteria. this does not have the state education agency come up with that alternative that may fit for something that we never anticipated for that state. again, it needs to have the approval for the secretary, if it is done. the local schools are making a choice. if we found we have a flaw in there that is not going to work because of the few people that are spread over how great of a territory and they have a better idea for making things better, i think this would be a good amendment. >> chairman? >> i have senator kirk, senator franken, and then senator sanders.
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>> we allow turn-around strategy, strateeblingic -- strategic strategy, and hometown strategy. those are the only options allowed. in my home state of illinois we train all the navy, the navy's only boot camp, the north chicago district doesn't fit those strategies. the problem there was theft, corruption, and an fib -- f.b.i. investigation of the school system and the school board. so i have enormous faith in mr.
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duncan. he helped with tremendous improvement for the chicago public school system. the foundation he put in, mayor emanuel is now leading. this is the number one issue in chicago. much of what romney is doing doesn't fit this he's either. it was a unique situation of f.b.i. investigation into corruption. what mayor emanuel is doing, as well, is fairly unique. i think arnie should have the ability to sign off on it. i think it is a very good amendment. i would say let's call this the duncan employment strategy, because i think arne duncan does
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have the ability to do it. >> i don't see anywhere in the amendment where arne duncan is guaranteed a lifetime appointment of secretary of education. i am very sympathetic of this, and i honestly don't know how i'm going to vote, and i would like to continue this discussion . yes in rural minnesota, a lot of the options don't work. >> we have provided additional flexibility in the bill to rural districts.
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>> right. and that is to provide whole school reform. but whole school reform has been something that's been proven to work before, and i'm not sure if that -- if even that will be right for schools. i even think that there is such thing as laboratories, and we might find models that states come up with or that they discover here. i want to explore this on line seven, exception for required activities. the local agency implementing state-determined school strategy shall not be required to implement the activities described in sub paragraph a. here's a -- here's the
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requirement. "provides staff with ongoing development consistent with the needs analysis described in paragraph 4. conduct regular evaluations for teachers and principals at schools that provide feedback on areas of strength and need for improvement. provide time for collaboration for instructional staff for schools and students to improve achievement." it goes on and on. "collaborate with the parents." these seem like really good common-sense, no one could object to, you know, requirements. what bothers me here is we're down to the bottom 5%. so if senator kirk is talking about a school district where
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the school superintendent and the school board are under f.b.i. investigation, i'm not sure if they are the best ones to come up with the transformation policies. >> we led the country in a lot of ways. we think we can come up with a better idea for minnesota
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scooleds -- schools. maybe in a certain situation, maybe it is a tribal situation like senator murkowski talked about, then we'll come up with the entire idea, and we'll present it to the secretary, and he or she can decide yes or no. it is true we don't know who the secretary will be. there have been some questionable characters in the past who have been secretary of education, but i do remember having been one of them, that you have a check on that. i was nominated, and my nomination was announced in december, and i was nominated in january, and senator hatch and senator harkin will well remember it was april before i was confirmed. this committee can hold up a secretary who they think is inadequate and defeat him or her on the floor of the senate if they decide that.
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>> the truth is, this gives the state the ability -- michael bennett, the denver school superintendent, he's pretty good. he may come up with a better idea for colorado than i might sitting here in washington. if he does and the secretary says i agree with you, why shouldn't he have that option. that's all i would say. >> i will problem recognize the senator. let's keep in mind, for 95% of all of the schools in the state, they can do what senator alexander says. we're only talking about that bottom 5% of which we are focusing federal intervention. you can be opposed to that, but i thought that was for the essence of the heart of this bill was to focus on that bottom
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5%. we're not talking about all the schools. we're talking about the bottom 5%. >> i believe in local control. here's the problem i see, senator alexander, with your amendment. if you have a school that's run poorly, students and administrators do not want to recognize that. i would much prefer to say, i'm going to write my own proposal, and i'm going going to fight, and i'm going to call up my own senator, and i hope my proposal is going to get past. what we're doing is opening, i think, a sli slippery slope. because i fear that the vast
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majority of poorly run schools will use that option. that's my fear. it is the easiest way out. hey, we're not doing that badly. we made some modest changes. >> i agree with the senator, but that's not the amendment. the amendment is to give the state of vermont the option to come up. you probably have 30 or 40 schools in this category. let's say one of them -- maybe it is 20 that will be in this low 5%. the state of vermont might come up with a way that they think is better. they would have to go to the secretary of education. >> and that's a fair point. we've given a lot of flexibility. that would have influence in the
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state of vdvd or -- state of vermont or state of tennessee. there are probably special cases that would require special solutions. but the general idea of opening a slippery slope where a lot of bad schools will fake advantage. >> i want to take what the chairman said and try to phrase what this debate is about. 95% of the schools have flexibility. 5% of the schools will not have the flexibility of the other 95%. what senator alexander's wellness does is have something coming up that's different than what we have described in federal legislation as long as they petition the secretary of education and the secretary of education has said i think this
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plan might work for vermont or colorado. it is not something they can do arbitrarily, but all senator alexander's amendment does is provide a degree of flexibility to the 5% that are excluded from flexibility in this bill. i would support everybody to support it. >> there are required activities for all school improvement activities. it has a whole list of things
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that need to be done, like conduct regular evaluation for teachers, provide -- provide help to the schools. use data to implement a research-based instruction period that analyzes student progress. in other words, provide ongoing mechanisms for parent and family engagement. the last is provide appropriate services and support for students as identified in the students' needs analysis. all of that stuff applies to everything. i personally have a lot of concern about striking all the things here that apply to all
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turn-around strategies. it strikes the required activities for all school improvement strategies. >> it does do that. it is inadvertent. if they are currently evaluating every teacher in the state, they may come up with a smarter idea than one of us do.
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>> i would like to ask for a role call vote. >> one of the challenges of that, senator alexander, is the amendment you have drafted doesn't match the bill we have in front of us. all these pages are off. there is no page 124 line 8 or page 127, line 4. we're having a difficult time tracking exactly the impact of your amendment. i would respectfully ask that we come back with an amendment that we can figure out how it changes the language in front of us. >> senator alexander drafted this amendment with the original -- >> absolutely. i understand that, and the challenge now is that because it doesn't match the text, we can't tell what's happening. >> senator, that should not present a challenge because what i'm doing is just saying, you
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have a clean slate. if the oregon secretary wants to come to the secretary of education for the 80 schools that we're going to have to turn around -- >> we don't know what you are striking. >> i am striking everything. >> we don't know what "everything" is unless you strike the whole bill. it is a friendly comment, senator. i wanted to understand the im pact. i was fairly interested in what you were doing, but i simply can't track how it is going to have an impact. there is another piece that's quite confusing. under the second page of the
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amendment, it is not -- since sub paragraph a was struck on the first p.m. page, i would point out it is hard to tell what's actually going on here. it is a courtesy to members to understand it, and if you could bring back a version that could help us get our hands around it. >> mr. chairman, i have enough sense to recognize a friendly comment when i hear it. if i may ask the chairman if i can defer this until after lunch and look at these ideas and defer it until that time? >> absolutely. the senator correctly drafted his amendment to the original mark and that should apply here.
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that should not be a problem with that, i say to my friend from oregon. but if you want to do that, that's fine. >> it seems to be creating some confusion, and i would like to clear it up. i would like not to lose the vote, if possible. >> i say to my friend from tennessee, again, when i -- focusing on the bottom 5%, i think we very carefully over a long period of time drafted the activitied that -- activities that you have to do before you take one of those turn-around models, and that's all wiped out. i might be more inclined to support the amendment when we left those in. that's all the requirements that we have prior that applies to all turn-around models. it wipes it out for the other model. >> it does. >> that just makes it much easier than for a state to take the easier path.
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again, for the bottom 5%, we have to have ri -- rigorous involvement. that's why i'm opposed to this amendment, because of that. >> mr. chairman, i respect that. you and i have a difference of opinion on that. if i could clear up the confusion at lunchtime, we could come back after lunch and vote on it. >> that would be fine. >> thank you, senator. >> i have two amendments. i want to congratulate you in the great work you have done in this reauthorization. i want to make comments about both amendments. first of all, in light of what we were discussing earlier, some
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of the numbers and some of the challenges that senator bennett presented to us about where we are in public education and the application we have to our children, a lot of that obligation starts with early education. we really don't have anything resembling a national strategy on early education. a number of states have good ideas. frankly, we don't have nearly enough by way of a strategy. what these two amendments would do woo be to speak to that basic challenge. the first amendment, casey amendment number one under title 1, would establish a voluntary universal prekinder garten program based on a bill that prode introduced earlier this year and i have introduced numerous times over the last couple years. a second amendment, and that first amendment i would say is
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co-sponsored by senators franken and sanders. i appreciate their work on that legislation and that amendment. the second amendment, also co-sponsored by senator sanders creates a foundation for fostering learning among young children by ensuring that states place a continuum of comprehensive learning standards from birth to early grades. just by way of background, in terms of the background for both amendments, we know that the evidence that has accumulated over many years is both compelling and irrefuteable. if we invest in children at an early age, the return on investment is better than any return you could get on any robust market, any stock market or any other return investment.
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some estimate that the return on investment of high quality -- and of course that's an important qualifier -- high quality education is up to $17 for every $1 you spend. we n.o.w. know noble lawyer yet -- nobel laureate james heckman entorses this.
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on the school assessment in reading and math, just in a short amount of time, not even a decade, when they track these children over the course of less than a decade, children who had participated in the program scored an average of 55 points higher on math after being in the harrisburg program, and 62 points higher in reading than their counterparts. i think people on both sides of the aisle understand the urgency in making these investments.
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it is important they have guidelines and standards they measure our up to. it doesn't destroy their ability to have flexibility and design their own system. neither of these bills would do that. it just says we have to raise the bar and move in the right direction and raise the bar in early education. i want a longer discussion. i will put a more amplified statement for the record. this is a critically important issue. i know both of you have worked mightily to improve the base bill. the language might not be the one i want.
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the component parts might not be. you talked at length in the bill about readness, about goals, and so many ways to advance the priority of early education. i think it is bipartisan. we might have different ways of getting there. i think it is a bipartisan concern. i will withdraw the amendments. for purposes of moving the ball forward here. i hope we can get more discussion and more divide and maybe even a vote on the floor when we get to the floor. thank you. >> i think we all recognize the importance of preschool education, all of those things. it would be more appropriate to address those things when we are working on the childhood community development block
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grants or headstart or any one of the 69 programs we have for preschool. 69 programs that we fund as much for as we do kindergarten through 12th grade. obviously some things need to be done in that area. we need to fix those, too. we don't need to fix everything in every bill. that's where we run floo problems. we run into competing interests, and somebody gets upset with a participant of one thing that didn't pertain to elementary and secondary education, and then we lose a bill. i think if we're getting it done, there is a better place for us to concentrate on these things. i hope that we can even reduce the 69 program down from 69
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programs to the reag really effective ones. only eight of those are coming from the department of education. the rest are from other departments. we don't really have jurisdictions over those departments. there is a lot of money being spent out there on this early education that i think we could improve, and i appreciate your efforts on it and your concern for it, and i think that's shared by pretty much everybody. >> i would just also thank the senator for his advocasy of early learning. one word i have stricken from my vocabulary is preschool. i don't think there is such a thing. it is early learning, but not preschool. i think education begins at birth. in the mid-1980's president reagan wanted to find out what
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the business community had to offer in the way of their view on education and what we need to do on education. so a committee is set up, some of our biggest erika de souza -- biggest c.e.o.'s around the nation. the chairman and head of honeywell was the head of this. here is her book. "a new development for child education." all the titans of education say put your money in early learning. this is 1991. last spring, this spring, the united states chamber of commerce issued a new report. i ask you to read it. what does it say? we have to start focusing on early learning.
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maybe elementary education binls begins -- maybe elementary education begins at birth. that we have to rethink that elementary education really does begin at birth, and that too many kids start first grade, and they are way behind already, and many of them will never catch up. that's when the brain develops the most. we know that in these early years. again, we did some things in this bill to begin to focus more on early learning.
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i wish we could have done more, but we didn't. we reached compromises on this bill. i agree with the senator from pennsylvania. we have to focus more effort and energy and resources call that money.
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we will come back at 2:00, thinking 2:00 might stretch to 3:00. so we'll come back after the segments from 1:00 to 2:00. after those, welcome back and continue to make progress. >> senator, i would like to make an offer to senator casey. >> senator murkowski and have already had two hearings on this block grant, so when we talk about the two or three years we have been lapsed on no child left behind, that's minor in comparison to the childhood block grants. i would be more than happy to work with you and take some of the information we used in those hearings and take what i hope is reauthorization of that program of this congress.
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>> amendments on title 1? >> this is on all titles, amendment 2, if we have enough votes mple >> which one is it? >> it is all titles, and it is amendment number 2. and i think -- i think we can do it shortly. most of what i said before about no child left behind, we'll let it stand that i've said this previously. this one, i do want unanimous consent to change the last five words on it. this basically says that anything in no child left behind that imposes a mandate or has the effect of imposing a mandate or state or school shall, and i would like to strike the last six e six words to say "henceforth be voluntary." >> after the word "shall" instead of saying "have no force or effect" just say "henceforth be voluntary."
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>> "shall henceforth be voluntary?" >> yes, sir. >> without objection the senator can modify his amendment. >> i would like a recorded vote on it. i'm welcome to hear discussion or debate over it, but i think we should not tell the states what to do. we have good ideas. feel free to tell the states what these good ideas are, but the states should have the prerogative of deciding whether they want to take our ideas or not. >> the only observation i would make to my friend from 10 kentucky is that, as i've said many times before, we provide about 9% of all the funding of education in america. we are focusing on the bottom 5%, basically. but again, keep in mind, no state has to do anything we say
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whatsoever. if they don't want the money, they don't have to do anything. they can give up that 9%, and they can do whatever they want. there is no mandate in there that they have to do something if they don't want to take this money. >> it is really not our money. it was the money -- we took it from them to begin with. i would argue they are trying to get back some of their own money. i am more than happy to have a recorded vote on it or more discussion. however you would like to go. >> i don't agree with the substance of this amendment or the change that was made. i do not object because i want the senator to be able to do his work, and i think the senate is a -- as a general matter would function better if this became the course of the work we do instead of having people hold things up instead of technical
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amendment fixes like this, and i want the record to reflect that though i disagreed with this, i would help. and the senator has the right to object. i would hold my objection. >> i agree. in the spirit of that, we are trying to move forward. we are having a hearing. i am willing to work to the other side. we have narrowed our amendments down to 7. i think we are more than willing to expied the process and have some, to me, important votes that people have recorded on either side of. i think it is important i would let people of value come down on one side or the other, and that's mainly what i want to say in this process. >> first we'll call the role on the paul amendment number 2. >> no by proxy. >> senator murray. >> no by proxy.
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[not audible] [not audible]
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>> the amendment is not agreed to. can we squeeze in one more amendment? >> i actually have a number. >> the ranking member referred to yesterday.
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as i traveled around minnesota, i asked superintendented -- superintendents, schools, teachers, what we can do for no child left behind, what we can do to help it, and they agree on what we can do to fix it, and they all agree on the computer adapted tests. the tests we now take under no child left behind are these tests that the kids take at the end of april, and you get them back as kids are leaving school
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or after they have left school. they don't inform instruction at all. now let me complain what these tests are. what these computer tests are. there is nothing magical about it. in minnesota, in addition to the required mclb tests, which have a number of problems with them, they take these computer adaptive tests, and most of them take three times a year, and they love them. they love them for a number of reasons. one of the reasons is that they get the results passed right away.
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the tests get harder in certain areas. so it really is a finer measure of the child. if it starts getting long, they get easier. something important happens there. it actually will go out of grade 11:00.
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currently, no child left behind test prohibits testing out of grade level. now, arne duncan has said to us that a sixth grade teacher who takes a kid from a third grade level of reading to a fifth grade level of reading is a hero. you don't know that kid has a third grade grade level if you don't allow the test to go below grade level and go and discover. that's what the beauty of this adaptive test is. so this happens in real time while the kid is taking the test.
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it will allow for measuring growth. it will allow for measuring growth, which i think is so important in determining what the bottom 5% is. in schools. there are kids in schools that are very challenged. unfortunately no child left behind has had this thing where
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-- this bar where every student is teaching to. it is called a "race to the middle" in minnesota. it is a term of art. i hear this in minnesota all the time. what it means is, the smartest kid in the class, well, you don't have to teach that kid. no matter what you do, that kid is going to exceed. there is nothing you can do to that kid will make that kid not be proefficient -- proficient. and since the teacher is only measured on what percentage of the kids meet or exceed proficiency, they ignore that kid. then they ignore the kid at the bottom that is challenged. nothing you could do would make this kid be proficient. but the one part of "no child left behind "that i love is the
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title. "no child left behind." well you are leaving that kid behind if you are not able to measure where they really are. this will get to my other amendment, which is allowing growth as a model. but i think we need to allow -- we need to allow these computer adaptive tests so we can accurately measure where every kid is, where each kid is, and allow the teachers to theas measure. you have to really give the teachers a tool for instruction. i think all assessments should do that.
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>> thank you, mr. chairman. a quick question. minnesota uses these tests currently, and oregon does as well. so have they been disallowed for some states, or is this the primary emphasis to make this absolutely clear for the future that this is a tool that is eligible under -- >> it is to make it clear that it is eligible. >> i just want to strongly support the senator's amendment. this has been a valuable tool in our state. we also compete -- they are extremely valuable to the reasons.
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i think it would allow us to go outside grade level so you can test below the grade level and above the grade level, so you can get a real assessment of where the child is at. >> mr. chairman? >> this gets into one of my favorite things as well, and i've looked at the test results that parents are given for their kids as not being able to test out of range or out of grade severely hinders the information the parents get. i would like for everybody to take a look at the report cards the kids get across this nation and challenge you, if you are not an educator, to be able to tell if that kid is doing well or not. i grew up under iowa basics, and my parents used to get the results from that. i learned since then that the
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district was able to kind of buy the results they wanted overall and help people out. but the one thing that that really did is your report card came back, and if you were in fourth grade, and you might be only reading at third grade, second month level. on the other hand you might be reading fifth grade, fifth month. but the parents could eel either be really upset or really happy, depending on how this came out. it doesn't happen under this test. that's one of the biggest things. i wouldn't mandate it in the bill anywhere. the report cards ought to come back so the parents know what grade level that kid is at whether it is below the one he is in now or above the one that he is -- he or she is in at the moment. somehow we need to allow that, and this has a way of doing that. i would hope that this could
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somehow be combined with what senator isakson has been making a big point of earlier. again, of learning really where the kids are. all of them. not just some of them. and putting -- giving them a test that really tells the parents how their child is doing in conjunction with even i.e.p.'s. so i appreciate that we're going to have more discussion on this. and it is not going to be voted on until we get back, because i think senator i.s.a.k.s.o.n. -- senator isakson would like a vote on this. >> are we going to vote on this? >> no, we're going to vote on this when we come back. >> we'll continue the discussion when we come back. a sure the senator he will not be cut off. he will be able to ask his question. >> it will be a quick answer. does this allow out-of-level
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tests for kids with disability, out of grade-level tests? >> yes. >> first these tests are on grade level, and then you can find out whether they are below. what's good about this is that -- and later i'm going to put an amendment -- i'm sorry. i know we have to vote. let's do this after wards. >> the committee will stand in recess until 1:00. we'll come back at 1:00, because i don't know what time those 2:00 votes may go down. we'll be back at 1:00. >> democratic chairman charles
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levin is speaking to the council on foreign relations this morning, 5:00 on c-span2. next, your calls live on "washington journal." "the contenders" live at 8:00 p.m. wendell willkie. up in 45 minutes, republican frank wolfe of virginia about the -- frank wolf of virginia. at 8:20, heather smith from rock the vote will take your questions about the youth vote in the 2012 election. and we'll look at the economic indicators regularly provided by the census bureau. our guest will be william


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