Goodbye To No Child Left Behind? Not So Fast

The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) has shaped education policy in this country for almost ten years. This federal influence is about to change. Or is it?

Last Friday, September 23, President Obama announced that he will waive the cornerstone requirements of NCLB, including the mandate that all students be proficient in math and language arts by 2014, and will give states the freedom to set their own student-achievement goals and design their own interventions for failing schools.

In exchange, the administration will require states to adopt college- and career-ready standards, focus on 15 percent of their most troubled schools and create guidelines for teacher evaluations based in part on student performance.

More Power To The States

“This does not mean that states will be able to lower their standards or escape accountability,” the president said. “In fact, the way we’ve structured this, if states want more flexibility, they’re going to have to set higher standards, more honest standards that prove they’re serious about meeting them.”

Mr. Obama also said that he was forced to act because partisan gridlock has kept Congress from updating the law for four years.

“Given that Congress cannot act, I am acting,” Mr. Obama said. “Starting today, we’ll be giving states more flexibility.”

But Hold On A Minute….

So President Obama is giving more power back to the states. And yes, it’s good that the 2014 deadline, which almost everyone agrees is completely unrealistic, is gone. But what’s this instead?

From The New York Times:

Experts said it was a measure of how profoundly the law had reshaped America’s public school culture that even in states that accept the administration’s offer to pursue a new agenda, the law’s legacy will live on in classrooms, where educators’ work will continue to emphasize its major themes, like narrowing student achievement gaps, and its tactics, like using standardized tests to measure educators’ performance.

That’s right – one of the biggest complaints from teachers, parents and administrators is the obsession the administration has with standardized tests, often used as the sole measure to evaluate the performance of both students and teachers.

Apparently Mr. Obama and Mr. Duncan, the Education Secretary, have chosen to completely ignore all the criticism about standardized tests, not to mention all the evidence that it is wrong to turn these into high-stakes tests.

NCLB As A Name May Be On The Way Out, But Its Provisions Are Not

In other words, while the name No Child Left Behind may be on the way out, many of its provisions are not. And that’s a shame.

The law that President George W. Bush signed in 2002 was a bipartisan rewrite of the basic federal law on public schools, first passed in 1965 to help the nation’s neediest students. The 2002 law required all schools to administer reading and math tests every year, and to increase the proportion of students passing them until reaching 100 percent in 2014.

Focus On Test Preparation Only To Continue

Schools that fail to keep pace are labeled as failing, and eventually their principals are fired and their staff dismantled. That system for holding schools accountable for test scores has encouraged states to lower standards, teachers to focus on test preparation and math and reading to crowd out history, the arts, foreign languages, P.E and even recess.

And I am not seeing much in President Obama’s waiver plan that is going to change all that. And so the struggle continues.


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Photo Credit: SS&SS


Catt R.
Catt R6 years ago

the author, Judy, of the article appears critical of President Obama with the statement.....
"Apparently Mr. Obama and Mr. Duncan, the Education Secretary, have chosen to completely ignore all the criticism about standardized tests, not to mention all the evidence that it is wrong to turn these into high-stakes tests".
Judy bases her criticism on the opinion of the NY Times that there will still continue to be standardized tests because that has become the culture because of NCLB, not on anything else.
In my opinion the point of the entire article was to criticize the president, she has no fact other than the president has refused to allow congress to hold our education system hostage as they have everything else. She is using the NY Time opinion that THE SCHOOLS are now accustomed to the test and will most likely still CHOOSE to then insist it is OBAMA's demand that they continue with the same tests-------------

HEAVILY SLANTED, AND POORLY WRITTEN, but I bet you still get 'followers' that like you want to blame Obama when you break a nail.

Jami Winn
Jami Winn6 years ago

finally Obama does something smart i hate the NCLB act i'm in high school in ALL honors courses and am slowed down because of kids in the honors courses who are only there because their parents wont let them be in CP classes and they ask the dumbest questions, never pay attention, are constantly talking and disrupting class, and when they get back their test wonder why they made such a bad grade

Mary B.
Mary B6 years ago

This sounds like another example of Obama putting out some new guidelines, telling his people to put it together in a useful way, then all they do is add more stuff onto what already existed because they still have a status quo mind set. This man needs some new people around him who are not afraid to be innovative and put aside what the previous administration did. Obama is right on in his thinking, but he's surrounded by the old way of doing everything thinkers. And as long as Americans still think this way too, nothing is likely to change. Don't you think lots of people have been asking "What happened to change?" Well, the question has been answered and written about by insiders who have watched what has happened. I personally can't 'prove' anything, neither can you people, but before you get up on your little soap boxes and start bashing Obama, check out some new info on what's been happening. Maybe things will start to make sense to you then. I'm really eager to see how people react when the new ideas really do come on line. Will the foot dragging continue and you all start crying cause change is being 'shoved down your thoats', or will life move forward with a resounding YES ! Focus on what he's actually proposeing and think about that and how it could work out. What's your own agenda?Get clear and honest. At least take that much responsibility for yourselves.

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons6 years ago

Is it Bush or is it Obama I can't tell them apart except for the fancy speeches.

Marie W.
Marie W6 years ago

GW Bush wins- everyone is braindead.

David Anderson
David Anderson6 years ago

"Mr. Obama also said that he was forced to act because partisan gridlock has kept Congress from updating the law for four years."

Is he delusional? Are Pelosi's Democrats and Reid's Democrats from a different party than Obama's Democrats?

William Y.
William Y6 years ago

All standardized test show is that some students can take standardized tests. It does not show that they have learned anything, get rid of them and bring back real teaching.

James C.
James C6 years ago

The man cant do anything right and his biggest achevement is he caves in to pressure. No child left behind is a lie it leaves many behind but whose actually counting?

VASIL ABYSS6 years ago

They like us to be stupid. It is easy for them to rule us. To ignorant for science ? Try religion.

Terry W.
Terry Walker6 years ago

Education in the US is a total failure compared to other free world nations. That is happening because education is not valued in the State legislatures. When it come time to fund the schools the Republicans prevent every penny they can from going to the schools in their State. The problem with education here in the US is politically driven. The laws are driving the destruction of our education system by creating a competition over the tax dollars that go to education.

More State control makes it worse not better! Create aggressive federal education standards. Establish a system of constraints that mandates compliance with a federal standard for education. Require the States to fund as necessary to meet that standard and expand the scope of the education system to include the sciences and the arts. We need free public education through 16 years of education with graduates receiving BA or BS degrees. Because of the wage loss, job loss and increasing cyclical layoffs, if we are going to empower the children of working class families to ever have college educations we need to make it possible collectively! Good high schools to prepare every student that wants a college education is not optional in a competitive world. Making it possible without the prerequisite of family wealth, is not optional if we want to compete on a global scale. Business needs to grow and expand here and to do that we need to educate aggressively. Every american child should have the opportunity to get