U.S. Congressman Sam Graves, a Co-Chairman of the Congressional Rural Education Caucus, welcomed the announcement that senior members of the Education and Labor Committee from both parties would begin a bipartisan and transparent effort to reform the current law. Graves has held numerous meetings with parents, teachers and administrators throughout the Sixth District to get ideas and feedback on reform.
"Everyone agrees that we need to fix No Child Left Behind," said Graves. "This is an opportunity for Congress to work together and improve the law instead of bickering."
Graves said he would send a letter to the Committee asking them to examine some of the proposals for reform ideas that he endorses. Graves believes there ought to be a difference between schools who fail multiple categories and a school that fails one. He said that Missouri has some of the highest standards in the nation, which means that some of our best schools were graded as failing.
"There is a difference between schools who fail multiple criteria and schools that fail one criteria," said Graves. "If you fail one section on a test that doesn't mean you failed the whole test."
Graves talked about the importance of making No Child Left Behind more flexible. A change he favors is using growth models to test each individual class against itself, rather than testing its progress based on a previous class. He also believes that schools should measure the academic progress of learning disabled students using the student's Individualized Education Plans (IEP).
"We all want accountability, but we should not be setting schools up for failure down the road," said Graves. "Instead of holding children and schools to arbitrary benchmarks of performance, we should measure how each student in a school improves from year to year and reward those schools that help their students make substantial gains in performance."
The Education and Labor Committee is expected to begin hearings next month to explore ideas for reform.