Most States Have Waivers from No Child Left Behind: Now What!

Dear Commons Community,

As posted previously, most states have now been granted waivers from the U.S Department of Education’s No Child Left Behind requirements and are free to set their own standards regarding student outcomes, progress and teacher evaluations in their public school systems.

In exchange for the education waivers, schools and districts promised to set new targets aimed at preparing students for colleges and careers. Congress has tried and failed repeatedly to reauthorize the education law over the past five years because Democrats and Republicans cannot agree on an appropriate role for the federal government in education.

The New York Times is reporting today that:

“A report being issued on Friday by the liberal Center for American Progress shows that while some states have proposed reforms aimed at spurring schools and teachers to improve student performance, others may be introducing weaker measures of accountability.

“The increased flexibility of the waivers means that some states will experiment and move ahead,” said Jeremy Ayers, associate director of federal education programs at the organization, “while others may backtrack.”

The Obama administration has granted waivers to 31 states and the District of Columbia, freeing them from some of the most burdensome provisions of the law, including the requirement that all students must be proficient in reading and math by 2014”

In addition,

“In reviewing the state waiver applications, the center found that 14 states plan to use growth in student test scores for 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation.

Teachers unions and state education officials have fought over how much weight to accord to student test scores. In New York, the two sides battled for more than two years before settling on a system earlier this year that would base 40 percent of a teacher’s evaluation on student achievement measures.”

The issues raised by the waivers are most important but should not detract from the major problems that NCLB fostered on American public education.  While well-intentioned,  NCLB was deeply flawed and did more harm than good for the children in our schools.




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