Shumlin Lays Out Education Agenda

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(Host) Gov. Peter Shumlin says he wants Vermont to be one of the first states in the country to be granted a waiver from the assessment mandates of the federal "No Child Left Behind" law.

As VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports, the waiver plan is only part of the governor’s education agenda for the coming year.

(Kinzel) Shumlin met with members of the State Board of Education to outline a number of issues that he hopes the Board and his Administration can work on in the coming year.

President Obama wants to broaden the assessment requirements of the "No Child Left Behind" law so that results aren’t based on a single exam but Congress has failed to act on this plan.  So Education Secretary Arne Duncan is now encouraging individual states to seek waivers from the testing mandates.

Shumlin wants Vermont to have its waiver plan ready by the end of the month:  

(Shumlin) "That system should be one that measures the individual student’s progress within a classroom as opposed to having to measure all 10 students progress as a block. Let’s work together as quickly as we can to get the Secretary the information he needs to make Vermont one of the first states that gets the waivers from No Child Left Behind and make sense of a system that I think is failing us."

Shumlin also asked the Board of Education to make reading proficiency at the 4th grade level a top priority:

(Shumlin) "If you can’t read at a 4th grade level by 4th grade the chances of you learning how to read and growing up and being governor or whatever you want to do in life is certainly unlikely. And there aren’t very many people who are going to succeed in this workforce without a higher education so we know we’ve got to raise the number of people we’re getting into higher education to do that we’ve got to succeed early."

(Kinzel) Shumlin also wants all high school seniors to participate in an internship program to give them some experience in the real world.  He’s hoping the plan can be coordinated through the Americorps program:

(Shumlin) "To use those young college graduates who are up here doing good things for the community to match the Chamber of Commerces, the business community with the superintendents, with the principals office and with the teachers to set up real live challenging internships within each community in Vermont."

(Kinzel) Fayneese Miller is the chair of the Board of Education. She reacted enthusiastically to Shumlin’s proposals:

(Miller) "I’m thrilled to hear the things that you laid out because they are in line with what the Board has been doing and wants to do. When you talk about individualized learning opportunities for every child in Vermont, so the focus is on the individual child and what that child might need."

(Kinzel) Miller also wants the Board to develop a teacher evaluation system that includes multiple assessment components as part of its 2012 agenda.

For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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