December 12, 2006

NCLB odds

Eduwonk Andy Rotherham lays out the first set of NCLB reauthorization odds this morning. He and I agree that the most likely scenario is everyone's punting until after the '08 election. But he puts straight reauthorization as more likely than a dramatic revision by what he calls NEA's "rewrit[ing] the law to its liking" or a "Conservatives['] rollback [of] the federal role in elementary and secondary education." I think all of that is equally unlikely, perhaps because Rotherham and I have different political sources (and his are much, much closer to "the action").

If the stars line up, reauthorization may happen in 2007 with minor revisions, probably adding a growth component and changing the consequences of AYP failure. But that's looking unlikely to me, primarily because the Democrats will have a harder time finding internal unity on this issue, and there are other issues that have higher apparent political salience.

What is more likely is that we'll end up with a two-year discussion of NCLB in Congress, with no reauthorization in sight once we hit 2008 but with some bipartisan agreement on some substantial changes after the 2008 election. If we get into 2008, I suspect The Powers That Be (of various sorts) will realize that growth models don't solve the underlying political questions. Congresscritters on both sides of the aisles may well acknowledge the need to revise or toss the current AYP formula and probably invent a whole new mechanism based on some state's version of accountability. The real wonkish readers here may recognize an opportunity for strategists to start planning a la John Kingdon's triple-stream approach.

None of this necessarily addresses what should happen, of course, though it affects the likelihood of what should happen happening.

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Posted in Accountability Frankenstein on December 12, 2006 11:03 AM |