3 Developments on No Child Left Behind

No Child Left Behind expired in 2007 after lawmakers couldn’t come to a compromise over its renewal. Fifteen years have blown by since the last time No Child Left Behind was updated. That’s a significant period of time when we are talking about the treatment of our students in every school of the nation.

But just because No Child Left Behind has not been updated does not mean that it has been forgotten. In fact, there are some relatively recent developments. Let’s take a look at three of them.

  1. “No Child” Waivers extended to 2018. The Department of Education has released a letter stating the new guidance for securing waivers from No Child Left Behind, President George W. Bush’s education reform law, for three or even four more years. The waivers stop states from being tied to the rigorous expectations of Bush-led Adequate Yearly Progress, but in turn, each state must adhere to education reforms encouraged by the Obama administration.

The DOE informed chief state school officers that they would be eligible to apply to renew their waivers through the 2017-2018 school year.

The Bush-era law has been due an update since 2007. In 2012, the administration began granting waivers to state if they met certain requirement such as adopting college- and career ready standards and developing teacher and principal evaluation systems based largely on how much students learn.

Currently, 43 states and the District of Columbia have received waivers from No Child Left Behind, which allow them to forego certain accountability requirements law in exchange for implementing education reforms backed by the Obama administration.

Some education advocacy groups were pleased with the emphasis placed on ensuring states have a plan to improve student achievement for all groups of students — including students with disabilities, those from low-income homes and English language learners — and prohibiting states from giving schools high scores on state accountability reports if they have large achievement gaps.

The requirements also sparked some widespread criticism across the political spectrum.

  1. The Senate attempted to rewrite NCLB. According to The Washington Post, No Child Left Behind faced a 600-page rewrite. The Senate HELP committee (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions) worked on adjusting language and amendments that would seriously alter the bill’s impact.

Some of the revisions include a pivot towards allowing states to assume control over how teachers are evaluated and would drop the federal definition “of a highly qualified teacher.

The bill  also gives additional support for charter schools by providing “incentives for states to adopt stronger charter school authorizing practices.”

No Child Left Behind expired in 2007 after lawmakers couldn’t come to a compromise over its renewal. But this time seems to be different. The bill has a bipartisan tone and any amendment that did not have support from Democrats and Republicans was withdrawn during the bill’s mark up.

Yet those amendments will likely appear again when the full Senate has an opportunity to vote on the measure. Republican Senator Tim Scott has an idea  to funnel federal money meant to help poor students into a voucher system that any child attending a high-poverty school may use to transfer into a new school district.

His amendment failed in committee but he will reintroduce on the Senate floor.

Other inclusions and provisions included are an update to federal testing requirements, the peer review process, and an alteration to funding for early childhood learning programs.

  1. The Senate approved the changes to the law in July, a move that finally sets up negotiations with the U.S. House on updating the federal law on education.

“The Senate-passed measure would prohibit the federal government from setting performance targets or requiring specific standards such as the Common Core curriculum. It would make states responsible for establishing systems of accountability, including how much weight should be put on testing to determine whether schools are succeeding.”

According to ReviewJournal.com, the bill faces critics that believe it doesn’t reach far enough to help “minorities and low-income students.”

It is highly unlikely that the Senate’s bill will end up being passed as the final version as there is too much wrangling left to do with the House.

But besides that point, what may catch the eye of educators as they follow along with the progress of No Child Left Behind is how heavily it leans on allowing states the make final decisions on education.

Instead of receiving direction from the federal government, each state may end up having the ability to create policy surrounding how it decides to approach education. If you think about it, that is a scary prospect and would go completely against the idea of national standards.

Even that, though, is sure to change before the final version actually passes.

What do you think of the changes being made to No Child Left Behind?

Click here to read all our posts concerning the Achievement Gap.

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