NCLB Commission Launches New Hearings to Update Recommendations

August 19, 2009

 Tommy G. Thompson, Co-Chairman       Roy E. Barnes, Co-Chairman

Commission on No Child Left Behind logo


August 19, 2009


Contact: Jessica Schwartz Hahn
Commission on No Child Left Behind Expands Membership and Launches New Hearings to Update Recommendations
First Hearing on School Improvement; Wed. Sept. 2nd at Howard University in Wash. D.C.

Following up on its 2007 signature education policy blueprint Beyond NCLB: Fulfilling the Promise to Our Nation’s Children, the Aspen Institute’s Commission on No Child Left Behind is launching a new series of hearings to refine and build upon its previous recommendations.  Early next year, the Commission will release an addendum report to provide a clear roadmap for improving the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) during its upcoming reauthorization process.

To update its recommendations, the Commission has expanded its membership with people who have been implementing and conducting current research on the law or actively promoting innovative, results-oriented reform.  Thirteen new members join Commission co-chairs former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson and former Georgia Governor Roy E. Barnes and four Commission members who served during 2006-2008. 

“President Obama and the Congress have made a commitment to the core elements of our report—including improving teacher effectiveness, standards and assessments, graduation rates, data capabilities, and low-performing schools—and the Nation’s governors have pledged to address them,” said Governor Barnes.  “We must reaffirm our national commitment to closing the achievement gap and improving the academic success of all children.  As we move closer to reauthorization of the law, it is important to take a fresh look at our recommendations to ensure they have kept pace with research, practice, and policy that has developed during the past two and a half years.” 

The first hearing will explore the challenge of chronically low-performing schools and examine what can be done now to more effectively address the issue.  The hearing is open to the public and will be held Wednesday, September 2nd at 10:00 AM at Howard University in Washington, DC.  More details will be released this week.  To attend, RSVP to  To learn more about the Commission’s new phase of work, see Not a Moment to Lose and a Q&A.  

The work of the Aspen Institute’s bipartisan, independent Commission will capitalize on recent research, more than two years’ additional field experience with NCLB, and new requirements under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).  The Commission will also conduct extensive research and outreach to gather the best ideas for improving key areas of the law, including through public comment on its website and other interactive channels.

“Beyond NCLB’s bold recommendations are becoming more widely supported, and their core principles are at the heart of the new ARRA requirements.  Momentum is building among the states to develop and adopt high-quality common standards and tests, and states have made dramatic progress in developing data systems,” said Secretary Thompson.  “We no longer have to ask what the essential components of a reform bill are; we have to ask how to get them done.  We hope that the new ESEA will reflect our forthcoming recommendations and be a catalyst for expanding the kinds of serious reforms called for in the ARRA’s Race to the Top Fund, and ultimately, better results for all children.”  

New Hearings  

The Commission’s public hearings will take place over the next four months and will be held across the nation, in communities where practice and discussion are aligned with the Commission’s key priorities for education improvement and innovation.  Each hearing will focus on a specific policy issue originally addressed in the 2007 report, including:

  • Increasing teacher and principal effectiveness 
  • Fixing low-performing schools
  • Building effective accountability and data structures and establishing quality common standards
  • Strengthening high schools

New Members  

The Commission will work in a committee structure, with members most experienced and interested in the area of focus overseeing each hearing.  This structure will allow subsets of commissioners to lead on key issues and engage hearing witnesses in more active and in-depth discussion on each topic.  Commissioners will jointly develop recommendations across all subject areas and may attend the hearing of any committee.  The committees are, with new Commission members in capital letters:  

School Improvement

  • DANIKA LACROIX, Principal, Young Scholars’ Academy for Discovery and Exploration, Brooklyn, NY
  • DR. MICHAEL LOMAX, President and CEO, UNCF (United Negro College Fund)
  • PAUL PASTOREK, State Superintendent of Education, Louisiana
  • GREG RICHMOND, President and CEO, National Association of Charter School Authorizers
  • Dr. Edward Sontag, Chief Management Official, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  Accountability, Data and Standards

  • DR. ANDRES ALONSO, CEO, Baltimore City Public Schools, Maryland
  • F. PHILIP HANDY, CEO, Strategic Industries, and former chairman of the Florida State Board of Education
  • Hon. Judith Heumann, Director, Department of Disability Services, District of Columbia
  • DELIA POMPA, Vice President for Education, National Council of La Raza

  Teacher and Principal Effectiveness

  • DR. JANE HANNAWAY, Director, Education Policy Center, The Urban Institute, and Director, National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (CALDER)
  • MIKE JOHNSTON, State senator and former principal, Colorado
  • Dr. J. Michael Ortiz, President, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, CA
  • TASIA PROVIDENCE, Master Educator, District of Columbia Public Schools

  High School Reform

  • DR. EDUARDO CANCINO, Superintendent, Hidalgo Independent School District, Hidalgo, TX
  • Andrea Messina, Member, Charlotte County School Board, Florida
  • DAN SCHAB, Mathematics Teacher and former Michigan Teacher of the Year, Williamston High School, Williamston, MI
  • LAYSHA WARD, President of Community Relations, Target Corporation, and President, Target Foundation

Other Commission members who served during 2006-2008 and produced Beyond NCLB will contribute to the process as ex officio members.   

The Commission on No Child Left Behind ( and on Facebook) is a bipartisan effort to identify and build support for improvements in federal education policy to ensure the nation has effective tools to spur academic achievement and close the achievement gap. Following a comprehensive review process with extensive public input, the Commission in 2007 released a blueprint for strengthening NCLB by preserving the law’s core principles and making needed changes to accelerate progress toward achieving its goals, particularly in the areas of teacher and principal effectiveness, robust accountability and data, higher academic standards, stronger high schools, and increased options for students.  


The Commission is funded by some of the nation’s leading foundations, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Joyce Foundation, and the GE Foundation.  The findings, interpretations, and conclusions expressed in the Commission’s work should not be attributed to the donors.

View Comments