Friday, November 27, 2009

Sestak on Education

Joe Sestak, current Congressman and candidate for Senate, was one of the CEO's and policy makers the Wall Street Journal invited to discuss four issues, one of them being education. The article "An Educated Work Force" was published in Monday 11/23's special section "How to Rebuild Global Prosperity. Sestak makes four points:

1) Learning is continuous. "No longer can you just learn a trade; that trade is going to change over time."

2) "Early intervention is absolutely critical, too." He points out that for ever $1 spent on pre-K we get $7 back.

3) Need to focus on minorities. "Today, only 3% of all business that have revenues over $1 million are owned by a person who's a minority. And yet, by 2050, they will be 50% of our population." later "Probably about 1 out of every 12 African Americans can do fractions at the age of 17."

4) accountability. Bush was right with No Child Left Behind. We need qualified teachers for math and science.

Here is Sestak's press release on the subject:

Addressing more than 100 of the world’s top CEOs, Congressman Joe Sestak (PA-07) outlined critical improvements needed to prepare our next generation for economy prosperity. Congressman Sestak spoke at The Wall Street Journal CEO Council forum Rebuilding Global Prosperity, which was convened to develop an urgent action plan for ensuring long-term global prosperity, with an emphasis on the shared responsibility of business and government. He focused specifically on training our workforce for the high-value manufacturing jobs for the 21st century, such as green energy technology.

“To compete in the market with other countries, our schools and colleges will need to work with businesses and industries to develop experience-based curriculum that train people for advanced manufacturing fields,” said Congressman Sestak. “In addition to mentorship, this requires an increased focus on improving the performance of our young people in math and science.”

The Congressman referenced a 2005 National Academies of Science report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm, which highlighted the causes of the erosion of the United States advantages in science and technology. Specifically the study found only 68 percent of U.S. eighth grade students received math instruction from a teacher with no math certification or degree and 92 percent of fifth through ninth graders were taught physical science by a teacher with no science degree of certification.

The Congressman advocated for the reports recommendations to: increase America's talent pool by vastly improving K-12 mathematics and science education; sustain and strengthen the nation's commitment to long-term basic research; develop, recruit, and retain top students, scientists, and engineers from both the U.S. and abroad; and ensure that the United States is the premier place in the world for innovation.

“One important area to encourage greater innovation is in alternative energy technology,” said Congressman Sestak. “In 2006 alone, the renewable energy and efficiency industries generated 8.5 million jobs and nearly $970 billion in revenue in the United States. Alternative energy companies will never fully prosper in this nation, however, if we do not prepare our students for the jobs these businesses need.”

In addition, Congressman Sestak discussed the need for a stronger commitment to early education to improve opportunities for our students. He cited studies showing its benefits. For example, in Chicago, students enrolled in pre-K programs were 29 percent more likely to graduate from high school when compared to their peers who did not attend prekindergarten. Moreover, an evaluation of Maryland's early-learning programs showed that fifth-graders who attended pre-K were 44 percent less likely to repeat a grade than those fifth-graders who did not. According to University of Chicago researcher James Heckman, every dollar spent on getting very young children ready to learn saves taxpayers seven dollars in foregone social costs.

“We must enhance our early education programs, such as Head Start, particularly by ensuring that we train well-qualified teachers for pre-Kindergarten jobs and providing them the resources they need to succeed in those jobs,” said Congressman Sestak.

Sestak also released this information on a bill he is sponsoring:
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Congressman Joe Sestak announced plans to introduce the Accountable Performance in Schools Act on Monday, which will encourage states to use longitudinal growth models to track individual student achievement, instead of traditional methods of determining average yearly progress (AYP). Under current law, students' high-stakes test scores are measured against the same age group from previous years. This approach ignores differences between cohorts of students and fails to reward or encourage significant progress made by teachers and students during the school year. By contrast, growth models track individual students' progress throughout the school year and between grades, providing valuable feedback to and better evaluation of teachers.

"Only by ensuring real accountability for our nations teachers and students can we truly leave no child behind," Joe said. "By promoting the use of growth models, we will actually measure students' progress, allowing better evaluation of teachers and providing them with useful tools to enhance their ability to teach."

The U.S. Department of Education (USDE) has recognized the benefits of growth models, starting with a two state pilot program in 2006. USDE has since approved requests from 15 States to utilize growth models as their primary source of measuring AYP. In January of this year, Pennsylvania's request to utilize growth models was approved in January of 2009 for the 2009-10 through 2012-13.

Specifically, Congressman Sestak's legislation will allow States to use the results of longitudinal growth models to satisfy AYP under the No Child Left Behind legislation. To assist in the implementation of these programs, States will be eligible for grants to develop these longitudinal data systems. The growth models would be required to incorporate:

* A unique, statewide student identifier and identifier that remains stable over time;
* Student-level enrollment, demographic, and program participation information;
* The ability to match individual student's test records from year to year;
* Information on untested students, including why they were not tested;
* Information on student attainment in high schools,
* A statewide audit system to ensure the validity and reliability of data;
* A unique statewide teacher identifier that remains stable over time and matches student records to the appropriate teacher;
* Teacher-level education, demographic, and program participation information;
* Information on student participation in and performance on college admissions and/or college-level assessments;

The legislation builds on the Congressman's February 2009 Education Summit where he heard from employers, school administrators, educators, parents, policy directors, and education experts on the benefits and need for expanded growth model programs around the country. At the Summit, experts highlighted a January 2009 USDE report which found that "states can effectively manage longitudinal data and implement growth models," but "are likely to be applied in addition to the existing status model rather than separately alongside the existing status model."

"By establishing a clear definition for appropriate longitudinal growth models-- and providing federal funding-- states will be able to invest in robust state-wide growth model data systems, knowing that the federal government will acknowledge their accountability systems moving forward." Joe added. "Under current law, states that implement growth model systems under the USDE's pilot program, risk losing their authorization when the temporary program ends."

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