Monday, October 23, 2006

From The ASCA Legislative Update

From The ASCA Legislative Update
A weekly report of public policy issues in American Education from the
American School Counselor Association

October 23, 2006

Executive Summary:

Budget and Appropriations Update
Information Literacy Summit Convened in Washington
CEP Reveals Paper on the International Challenge of Finding Quality Teachers
Briefing Examines Connection Between Video Games, Teaching and Learning
Brookings Hosts Discussion of Effects of Student Happiness, Confidence on
CCSSO Releases ESEA Reauthorization Recommendations
In Brief
New Publications
In the News

1. Budget and Appropriations Update

It is wait and see time for education advocates anxious for information
about the FY 2007 budget decisions for the Department of Education. With
Congress out of town and the press focusing on the tight campaigns across
the nation, news about the many unfinished appropriations measures is hard
to come by.

What would Democratic victories in the U. S. House and Senate mean for those
of us who reside in the budget weeds? First of all, if past is prologue,
many of the key staffers who currently work for the majority party Members
of the Appropriations Committee might find themselves continuing in those
positions with one essential change in their status-working for the other
party. It is a poorly kept secret in Washington that staff actually make
many of the critical decisions that are attributed to elected officials.
Appropriations staffers are a unique breed-their expertise is valued by
Members on both sides of the aisle. Their knowledge of the complexities of
the spending and accounting practices of Federal government agencies; the
strength of the relationships they have built with career staff within these
agencies; and their general knowledge of how programs work and who cares
most about them is a treasure that a new Chairman does not lightly give
away. In the past, when party leadership has flip flopped, a large number
of experienced Capitol Hill staffers have found themselves staying in place.

So while we may see the faces of new Members of the House and Senate on
Capitol Hill after November 7 and the Chair positions and the Leadership
posts may switch to the other party, the key staffers who guide the
development and progress of the many appropriations bills that fund the
government each year could remain very much the same.

2. Information Literacy Summit Convened in Washington
The 2006 Information Literacy Summit on American Competitiveness in the
Internet Age was held on Monday, October 16. The summit, sponsored by the
National Forum on Information Literacy in partnership with the Committee for
Economic Development, Education Testing Service (ETS), the Institute for a
Competitive Workforce - an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and
the National Education Association (NEA), hosted discussions from national
and international experts on the topic of the literacy skills necessary to
be successful in today's information society.
The day's discussions addressed both domestic and international perspectives
on the issue of information literacy. Throughout the day, participants
agreed that the importance of an information literate citizenry and
workforce is better recognized internationally than in the U.S.
Additionally, there was a great deal of discussion regarding the importance
of distinction between technology skills and information literacy. While
basic technology skills are fairly pervasive, the ability to discern
information needs and locate, evaluate and effectively use that information
in the workplace and within the context of civic responsibilities is not
widespread, according to the initial findings of ETS' Information and
Communication Technology (ICT) Literacy assessment. These findings show
that less than half of college test takers, when asked to evaluate a set of
web sites, correctly identified the web site that met the criteria of
currency, authority and objectivity. Only 44 percent of the students, when
asked to handle a large amount of information, were able to successfully
sort the information to efficiently complete a task. More than half of the
students did not sort the information at all.

Margaret Honey, Vice President, Education Development Center and Consultant
to the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, pointed to these findings as a
"wake up call." Education advocates and those involved in federal education
policy agree that these concerns need to be addressed both within pieces of
competitiveness legislation being considered and the upcoming
reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

For more information on the event, visit

3. Center for American Progress Reveals Paper on the International
Challenge of Finding Quality Teachers

The Center for American Progress held a panel discussion based on a new
paper, "Finding Quality Teachers for Public Schools: The International
Challenge," written by Susan Sclafani and Marc Tucker. Susan Sclafani is
the Managing Director for the Chartwell Education Group and Marc Tucker is
the President of the National Center on Education and the Economy.

Recruiting and retaining quality teachers in an economically competitive
society remains one of the many challenges facing the US and foreign nations
alike. Some have turned to pay reforms as a way of addressing the issue,
including strategies such as sign-on bonuses, loan forgiveness, higher
compensation in the early years, pay incentives targeted at particular
shortage areas, bonuses based on teacher contribution, and individualized
salaries negotiated between teachers and principals versus a blanket salary
for all new teachers. Commenting on these strategies, Sclafani noted that
those entering the teaching profession believe that hard work should be
reflected in their salaries.

Overall, pay incentives for teachers, both in the United States and abroad,
are well below the level of the comparable incentives being offered in the
private sector. The new report asserts, "teachers and principals respond to
the same incentives that all other professionals respond to." The problem
is that these incentives are not structured properly. The United States
needs to continue to analyze how other nations are reforming their school
systems and put this data to good use in order to preserve the country's
competitive edge in the 21st century.

4. Briefing Examines Connection Between Video Games, Teaching and

During a breakfast briefing at the National Press Club on October 17, the
Federation of American Scientists (FAS) and the Entertainment Software
Association (ESA) called on the federal government, business and education
leaders to embrace and thoughtfully explore the use of video games in
teaching and learning.

The briefing was held to release, "R&D Challenges in Games for Learning," a
roadmap for these leaders. The plan is based on the deliberations of the
National Summit on Educational Games held in October 2005, which drew on the
experience and opinions of over 100 participants, including video game
industry executives/developers; educational software publishers; experts on
technology and pedagogy; researchers; teacher representatives; U.S.
military; R&D funders; and policymakers.

To discuss the Summit findings and recommendations, the breakfast briefing
featured panelists: Henry Kelly, President, FAS; Doug Lowenstein,
President, Entertainment Software Association; Don Blake, National Education
Association (NEA); and Jayfus Tucker Doswell, President and CEO,

According to Lowenstien, "[b]y 2010, there will be 75 million people between
the age of 10 and 30. These 'millennials' will have video games in their
DNA just like we have television, and how radio was for our parents." He
stressed the importance of leveraging technology to reach students and
enhance their education.

Blake agreed with the panelists that technology - specifically gaming - has
an important role to play in education. However, he provided context to the
current education climate by providing a series of questions that will need
to be answered by the gaming community as they move the conversation
forward. "How would these methods be measured on standardized tests? To
what degree are we educating the public and decision makers and managing
their expectations in terms of the results from incorporating technology?
How would schools of education incorporate pedagogy with regard to gaming

The structure of the education market itself presents a host of obstacles
for a manufacturer of gaming technologies. It is highly fragmented, and in
light of NCLB requirements, schools are reluctant to adopt unproven
innovations. Kelly acknowledges that there needs to be substantial research
and development done in this area in order for it to have the most positive
affect in schools. Some items to research would be the role of games in
learning, design of pedagogy for game-based learning, effect of immersion
and engagement on learning, and understanding change in education and
training institutions.

To view the report, fact sheet and powerpoint presentation, visit

5. Brookings Hosts Discussion of Effects of Student Happiness, Confidence
on Achievement

The Brookings Institution held a briefing about the 2006 Brown Center Report
on American Education. The report, "How Well Are Our Students Learning?"
evaluates the roles that student happiness and confidence play in
achievement. The report also examines whether states are inflating test
scores to meet the standards of No Child Left Behind.

The report suggests that the level of American student happiness and
confidence negatively correlates to achievement, when compared to other
nations. According to Tom Loveless, Director of the Brown Center on
Education Policy and the author of this report, student happiness in
education is "misplaced." Based on data from the Trends in International
Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), the analysis found that countries
with students enjoying math, who are taught practical and relevant math
problems and are confident in their abilities, do not score as well as
countries with students whoare not confident in their abilities, do not
enjoy the subject and are not taught math problems that are relevant to
their daily lives.

Interestingly, this trend is only evident when comparing countries to one
another. When Loveless studied the same data within a single country, he
found the opposite results. For example, when looking at test scores of
students within the United States, he found that those students who are
confident in their math and reading abilities and are generally happy scored
higher than those who were not happy and not confident in their skills.
Loveless says this does not mean we should undermine students' confidence or
present math that is dissociated from students' lives or "boring." It does
mean, however, that if "self- confidence and enjoyment are separated from
academic purpose, they seem to lose their educational value."

Also examined in this report is whether or not states are inflating test
scores to meet the No Child Left Behind Standards. Under NCLB, states are
required to impose sanctions on schools that fail to make adequate yearly
progress (AYP) in increasing the percentage of students attaining
proficiency. It has been suggested that states are "watering down" tests or
setting proficiency levels low, among other things, to ensure they are not
sanctioned for not meeting AYP. According to Loveless, "schools certainly
have the incentives to do so." Research shows that schools are, in fact,
inflating test scores; however, research also shows that this was happening
long before NCLB and there is no evidence to show that NCLB is exacerbating
this gap in scores.

6. CCSSO Releases ESEA Reauthorization Recommendations

The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) held a briefing on Monday
to release its Elementary and Secondary Education Act Reauthorization (ESEA)
Policy Statement. CCSSO's goal for reauthorization of ESEA is to ensure
that every child graduates high school and is prepared for postsecondary
education and/or the workforce. In order to achieve this goal, CCSSO
believes there is a need for a renewed commitment and partnership between
the state and federal government.

The panel discussion included comments from Valerie Woodruff, president,
CCSSO; Elizabeth Burmaster, president-elect, CCSSO; and John Engler,
president, National Association of Manufacturers and former Governor of

According to Burmaster, the recommendations were created by a
"geographically and politically diverse" task force created in January 2006.
CCSSO has established three broad recommendations for ESEA reauthorization
that include:

1) continued support and increased autonomy with regard to the
foundations of standards based reform;
2) greater focus on building state and local capacity to improve
learned opportunities for all students and support interventions in
low-performing districts and schools; and
3) increased investment in research, evaluation, technical assistance,
and collaboration to help inform state and local efforts to improve student
achievement an close achievement gaps."

Engler stated that the manufacturing community has been concerned for a long
time regarding the ability of graduates to understand highly technical work.
He cited the 2005 NAM Skills Gap report which revealed that 80% of NAM
members were having difficulty filling positions with qualified applicants.
It was his hope that these recommendations would assist in improving
education to "give every American student a chance to have a competitive

Woodruff and Burmaster stressed that states must be provided flexibility in
order to incorporate innovative strategies; Woodruff maintained this would
not "let us off the hook" but rather provide the ability to utilize
strategies at the state level to improve teaching and learning. She pointed
to growth models as one specific area that states need to be allowed to

For more information, visit

7. In Brief

Spellings Discusses Higher Education, Global Competitiveness
Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings this week joined Rep. Heather
Wilson (R-NM), students, education officials and business leaders to discuss
higher education and global competitiveness. "To help keep America
competitive, we must provide students and families with more information and
more affordable access to higher education, while holding our institutes of
higher learning accountable for student learning," said Spellings. She
discussed the need for colleges and universities to be more affordable,
accessible and accountable in order to prepare American students for a
global economy. To accomplish this, Spellings suggested expanding No Child
Left Behind accountability to high schools, increasing need-based aid,
streamlining the entire aid process and creating a privacy-protected higher
education information system.

Briefing Focuses on PK-3 Teaching
At a briefing on Capitol Hill yesterday, the New America Foundation and the
Foundation for Child Development held a briefing to discuss pre-kindergarten
through third grade teaching. The briefing featured remarks from the 2006
National Teacher of the Year, as well as a representative from the National
Board for Professional Teaching Standards, a dean of a college of education,
and a policy expert. The panelists discussed the importance of early child
education and the critical role teachers play and what colleges of education
as well as policymakers can do to ensure highly qualified teachers are in
every classroom. The panelists discussed the lack of consistency in
education, training and certification standards from state to state. Many
PK-3 teachers do not hold bachelor's degrees; PK-3 teachers also make
significantly less money than their elementary teaching peers, creating a
deep hole in the PK-3 workforce. To counter this trend, recommendations
discussed targeting NCLB Title II and V money and HEA Title II money towards
PK-3 teachers. For more information, visit

8. New Publications

The Bridgespan Group (October 2006). "Reclaiming the American Dream."

9. In the News

Seattle Post-Intelligencer/AP (10/18/06). "SAT, ACT see number of
test-takers rise."

Houston Chronicle/Associated Press (10/18/06). "NFL Joins Fight Against
Child Obesity."

The Seattle Times/AP (10/18/06). "Scientists say video games can reshape

This memorandum contains links to Internet sites for the convenience of
World Wide Web users. ASCA is not responsible for the availability or
content of these external sites, nor does ASCA endorse, warrant or guarantee
the information, services, or products described or offered at these other
Internet sites.

From The ASCA Legislative Update
A weekly report of public policy issues in American Education from the
American School Counselor Association to join now ..

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