First, Bush has a new plan to promote standardized testing: pay teachers for improved scores.
Education Secretary Margaret Spellings planned to announce the first of 16 grants, worth $42 million, including $5.5 million for Ohio, on Monday. The government has not announced the other grant winners.Would they pay based on improvement, or sheer results? It'd make all the difference in the world. (It's also a bad sign for a late-term president when he asks for $500 million, and gets $99 mil from Congress.)
Using the old-fashioned incentive of cash, President Bush's program encourages schools to set up pay scales that reward some teachers and principals more than others. Those rewards are to be based mainly on test scores, but also on classroom evaluations during the year.
Second, state leaders want the math and science portions of the WASL to stay on timetable.
The failure of 49 percent of 10th-graders to pass the math section of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning last spring touched off widespread alarm. Those students, in the class of 2008, are the first who must pass math, reading and writing on the test to earn a high-school diploma. Passing the science portion of the test becomes a requirement in 2010.It's the inverse of the Notorious B.I.G. Mo problems, mo money.
In the past few weeks, the state PTA and an organization of school-board members have voted to push back the math requirement by three years and science by four.
But rather than delay the math and science requirements, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson said she'll ask the Legislature for an additional $199 million for the coming biennium to help this year's juniors pass the math, reading and writing portions of the WASL.
Last, pundits are calling the upcoming for the Democrats, in a big way.
Two independent analysts predicted last week that the Democrats will pick up at least the 15 seats they need to seize the House for the first time since 1994.I predict that the Dems will pick up a five-seat majority in the House, but won't get the Senate. Why? Because I can.
"The broad national environment has improved for Democrats," said Stuart Rothenberg, editor of the Rothenberg Political Report. He forecasts Democratic gains of at least 15 seats and possibly as many as 25 to 30, up from his earlier range of 15 to 20.