It looks like No Child Left Behind is getting left behind. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.) The Obama administration is announcing today that ten states will be waived from requirements of the law that demands students be proficient at their grade level in math and reading by 2014.
The states receiving the waivers are Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee. These states will now have the room to create their own programs of education reform to raise proficiency, instead of having to meet the federal guidelines set when the No Child Left Behind Act was signed by President Bush.
The Wall Street Journal reports President Obama expects the states to, “… adopt specific reforms favored by the administration, including adopting college and career ready standards and evaluating teachers on student achievement and other factors, such as parent and student feedback …” Twenty-eight more states have indicated they’ll apply for similar waivers in the coming year.
This doesn’t change the requirement, by the way, that kids be tested annually on their knowledge. Testing will still take place, but schools will no longer receive the same “punishment” for low scores.
I live in Georgia, and I can tell you I don’t have a lot of confidence that we can figure this out locally. After all, we’re the state where one out of every five public schools faced accusations of “tampering with student answers” last year on state standardized tests in order to improve scores. Before it was all over, the state of Georgia issued a report finding 44 of the 56 schools they examined did indeed cheat. Cheat! How about teaching the kids what they need to know so you don’t have to fake their scores?!
As the Associated Press reported this morning, “For all the cheers that states may have about the changes, the move also reflects the sobering reality that the United States is not close to the law’s original goal: getting children to grade level in reading and math.” I’m not saying NCLB was the best way to fix the problem, but we certainly need to FIX THE PROBLEM.