Either it's the regime change from Paige to Spellings or the Department is just worn to a frazzle by ever-emboldened, increasingly litigious states, but the latest Secretary's report on teacher quality seems to strike a less combative, more "everything's-coming-up-roses" tone than previous Paige tomes. For example, the growth in alternate route programs is widely praised, with nary a mention that most of them have been co-opted by the local ed school, making them not so 'alternative' after all. The report also soft-pedals the fact that four states have yet to initiate NCLB elementary teacher testing requirements at all, a couple of years behind the deadline for doing so.
Also notably, there's considerable touting of the federal requirement that states hold their schools of education accountable for the quality of their graduates--an effort which, the report graciously acknowledges, predates NCLB--but there's not even a veiled reference to the widely acknowledged fact that ed schools are relentlessly gaming the requirement (the real reason for inflated reports of candidate pass rates on licensing tests) and that states are not just innocent bystanders in this charade. While last year's report overtly criticized a number of states for effectively mandating the reporting of misleading pass rates, this year states get a nice pat on the shoulder and, apparently so do we all.
Politics aside, the report has added some good and useful data on state certification requirements, the use of emergency waivers, and other fun stuff.