President Bush Tuesday signed a federal education-funding bill he dubbed “leave no child behind,” saying it gives local districts both more control and more accountability. The bill increases federal funding for Iowa public schools to 388-point-seven million dollars. Iowa Education Department director Ted Stillwell says while the bill doesn’t make sweeping changes, it will revamp some school priorities, particularly in testing. Iowa had already adopted a policy to test at grades four, eight, and 11 and report the scores, but the new federal requirement is to test all kids in grades three through eight. Stilwell says they don’t know yet how strict new federal score-reporting rules will be.Most districts are already using the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills in grades three through eight, so most won’t see a big difference in their testing routine. Stilwell says Iowa has an advantage in being the state where leading tests of basic skills were originally composed.Even districts that have to give more tests will get the tests cheaper than the price publishers charge districts outside Iowa. Stilwell says though the bill President Bush signed increases federal funding 43-million dollars over last year, it’s only a share of the total cost for schools in the state.Stilwell says it won’t dramatically change education, since federal funding makes up less than seven-percent of any Iowa district’s budget. Stilwell says that small share of federal money may come with many new strings attached, which does concern school administrators.
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