Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Conversation With Arne Duncan

This from Politics K-12

sat down with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently for a wide-ranging interview on the hot education topics of the day: waivers, Race to the Top, reauthorization, and the election. If you want more than just the highlights, check out the full transcript.

On Waivers
Q. The first waiver announcement is expected soon from your department. You've talked about how this is not a competition, and so you want all states that want to, and can commit to certain things, to get a waiver under No Child Left Behind. But you also say you want to keep a high bar. How do you do both?

A. I think the first goal is clearly more important, to have a high bar. The goal is not to just give a waiver to everyone. ... We're going to go back and forth with states and say this looks great, you've got a challenge here, think about it in different ways. Again, no hard deadlines. This creates an opportunity for those who want it.

Q. People have been clamoring for the ability to measure growth. In reading the first 11 waiver applications, it's clear growth is a huge part of these new accountability systems. Are you worried that there will be so much emphasis on growth that you lose this desire to still get kids to a certain level of proficiency?

A. I think all of these are false choices. The only way you ever hit a high bar is by better growth. So it's growth to what? ... I think some of these accountability systems will be more complex, there will be more factors, but I think it will be such a more fine-tuned system. And not that it's going to be perfect. ... So, yeah, the growth is important to me. But look at graduation rates. Look at dropout rates. Look at our kids going to college. ... And so I think you're going to see a level of sophistication that just didn't exist 10 years ago, and we want to look at a range of factors. ...

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