NCLB “in need of improvement”

Obama Arne Duncan“In the 21st century, one of the best anti-poverty programs is a world-class education.” President Obama spoke these words at the State of the Union Address expressing the necessity to renovate No Child Left Behind. NCLB focuses on the use of standardized test scores in schools to measure student achievement.

2014 Proficiency Deadline to be Elminated

The revision will affect how each school is labeled as either performing or underperforming. It will also aim at getting rid of the 2014 deadline to bring every American child to academic proficiency. Also included will be a focus on school safety plans and increasing active parent involvement via community assistance and adult education programs.

The Pros and Cons of NCLB

Results from an October 2009 nationwide math test showed that student achievement grew faster before the No Child Left Behind law, when states established most education policies. Only slight increases in scores have occurred since the law has been passed.

U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan and staff traveled the country in an effort to determine the pros and cons of NCLB. The goal was to take input from Congressional leaders and educational experts and create a plan to attract bipartisan support.

Currently, the education law states that the 98,000 public schools need to make “adequate yearly progress,” determined by student test results. If these reading and math requirements are not met, schools must present students a chance to transfer schools and offer free after-school tutoring. If schools continue to perform poorly, staff may be dismissed and schools may even be closed.

A Revised School Rating System

Department of Education officials have also requested elimination of a school ratings system to judge yearly progress and test scores. “They were very clear with us that they would change the metric, dropping adequate yearly progress and basing a new system on another picture of performance based on judging schools in a more nuanced way,” said Bruce Hunter, director of public policy for the American Association of School Administrators.

Schools are now graded on a pass-fail report card each year, which administration believes is not a true factor in measuring school performances. Under administration’s proposals, a system would divide schools into categories to recognize successful schools and give money to those that need help. Schools are hoping to form national standards that would help prepare students to enter college or a career once they graduate high school. These goals would ensure these students are ready to enter the “real world.”

$4 Billion for Education in 2011 

President Obama also addressed the importance of inspiring children to succeed in school and improving those failing schools. Obama plans on asking Congress to provide up to $4 billion towards education in the upcoming 2011 year. A portion of these funds will be used to reduce class sizes and hire more highly-qualified special education and math teachers.

Many people have applauded NCLB for its attention on achievement gaps, but there have been some complaints from educators on impossible goals for students and schools and the embarrassment students and educators face when they don’t meet standards. Around 30,000 schools have been categorized as “in need of improvement,” which basically means they are failing, but there has been nothing done about this.

Administration officials are now working towards organizing a new rewrite maintaining the law’s focus on closing the achievement gap between minority and white students and increasing and rewarding teacher quality.

President Obama’s message is simple, “instead of rewarding failure, we only reward success.”

Photo from WI Guard Pics

Article by Lauren Grossberg and Amanda Kenuam

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