The Obama administration this week announced its plan to relieve states from the difficult plans outlined in the Bush-era “No Child Left Behind” law. Calling it an admirable but flawed system, Obama’s plan to eliminate NCLB will nonetheless keep its basic features in effect.
NCLB is designed to assess the success and quality of school districts based on their performance in high-stakes tests. The most difficult task required 100 percent proficiency of students in math and reading by 2014. This weekend Obama said the government will not require states to meet this standard because success should not be determined solely by how well students perform on standardized tests.
“This does not mean that states will be able to lower their standards or escape accountability,” Obama said. “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.”
This plan of action instead allows states to adopt their own individualized standards in language arts and mathematics, the success of which will be determined over time. Similar to NCLB, the new plan will still measure effectiveness based on test scores, but focuses more on individual development.
Comparable to the original provisions in NCLB, struggling schools could still potentially be closed or turned into charter schools if they do not meet the necessary requirements. However, Obama’s plan reduces the labeling of schools as “failures” and allows educators to focus more on critical thinking and less on teaching to the test.
According to The New York Times, officials in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and at least eight other states said Friday that they would probably seek the waivers.