The Best of Our Knowledge
2:45 pm
Mon December 14, 2009

The Best of Our Knowledge # 1004

Albany, NY – RACE TO THE TOP APPLICATIONS NOW OPEN AND
ROUND ONE COMPETITION KICKS OFF, Part One: The Firewall -

The U.S. Department of Education has released its final application for more than
4-Billion dollars from the Race to the Top fund. It's the largest single discretionary pool of education money in the economic-stimulus package congress passed last February.

TBOOK speaks with Education Secretary Arne Duncan about requirements to
qualify for the money. And we also hear comments President Obama made at a
middle school in Wisconsin, that influenced that state's Assembly and Governor to
pass and sign a new education reform bill which will help them compete for the
federal aid. They decided to drop the so-called "firewall" which prevented them
from linking student test scores to teacher and principal performance.

Glenn Busby reports. (10:22)

"PUT TO THE TEST: HOW STANDARDIZED TESTING IS CHANGING EDUCATION", A MULTI-PART DOCUMENTARY SERIES -

It's been almost eight years since President Bush signed No Child Left Behind into law. The often controversial regulation requires states to prove students are learning by using standardized tests to quantify student progress. NCLB's goal is to have all students reading and doing math on grade level by 2014. Now, that's only four years away.

As we heard in our earlier story on the Race to the Top competition, the Obama administration still wants to use some form of testing to measure student learning. And the president has set his own goal of 2020 to have the U.S. graduating more students from college than any other country.

All the while, going on in the background, senate and house education committees are again taking up the challenge of renewing No Child Left Behind, which is about two-years overdue.

North Carolina Public Radio spent two years with several producers embedded at Western Guilford High School in Greensboro, North Carolina, investigating if education there is getting any better. The result is this documentary series called "Put to the Test: How Standardized Testing Is Changing Education."

In this episode of the multi-part series, the high school has just failed to meet the federal government's testing goals. The principal is of course under intense pressure to raise those scores. And he's focusing attention on students who need help the most the school's poorest performing 9th graders.

Emily Hanford reports. (7:50)