updated 2/13/2007 11:25:04 AM ET 2007-02-13T16:25:04

A rewritten No Child Left Behind law should measure teacher performance, a private bipartisan panel said Tuesday.

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In all, the commission issued 75 recommendations in a report meant to guide Congress in updating the 5-year-old law this year.

Former Georgia Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes and Republican Tommy Thompson, who served as Health and Human Services secretary under President Bush and governor of Wisconsin, led the commission. It was established by the Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan think tank.

One recommendation would require schools to measure progress made by a teacher's students over a three-year period.

The law, which requires testing in reading and math in grades three through eight and once in high school, does not measure the effectiveness of individual teachers. It does require teachers to be certified, have a bachelor's degree and a demonstrated knowledge of their subjects.

Forcing teachers out
"The Commission believes that it is time to raise the bar and allow all teachers to demonstrate their effectiveness in the classroom rather than just their qualifications for entering it," the report said.

Teachers could be forced out of schools if they failed to improve, under the commission's recommendation.

Schools currently must meet yearly progress goals under the law. If schools miss those marks, they can be labeled as needing improvement and may face consequences.

However, the report calls the current system of measuring progress "a fairly blunt instrument" and recommended giving schools credit for making strides, even if they fall short of a specific goal.

The report also recommends closing a loophole under the law that has allowed states to set aside the scores of specific groups of students.

Special education student assessments
States have a lot of flexibility in determining how large those set-asides should be, and an Associated Press review last year found that nearly 2 million students were not being counted when schools reported yearly progress by racial groups.

The commission also is calling for changes to the way some special education students are assessed. Currently about 10 percent of students are given alternate tests and measured against benchmarks that are different from the ones used to assess general education students.

The report recommends allowing an additional 10 percent of special education students to also be judged against different benchmarks.

The commission also says a new test should be added in high school to assess students' readiness to do college-level work or enter the job market.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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