Re-write of No Child Left Behind appears on right path

Last Friday the Washington Post’s Lyndsey Layton wrote about the emerging Congressional bill that will replace the expired No Child Left Behind.  There were a number of fears expressed by education reformers about this legislation, the main one being that it would eliminate mandatory testing of public school students.  It appears that this is not going to be the case.  From the article:

“The agreement maintains the federal requirement that states test students annually in math and reading in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school, and publicly report the scores according to race, income, ethnicity, disability and whether students are English-language learners.

It also requires states to intervene in schools where student test scores are in the lowest 5 percent, where achievement gaps are greatest, and in high schools where fewer than 67 percent of students graduate on time.”

But in a bow to Republicans, the new law would leave it up to the States to decide how to fix under-performing schools.  Ms. Layton explains that these plans would have to be approved by the U.S. Department of Education.  Those institutions that are doing well can decide for themselves the role of standardized tests at their facility.

The House and Senate are also taking steps to make sure that the next Education Secretary cannot have the influence over policy that Arne Duncan enjoyed “prohibiting the secretary from influencing state academic standards and assessments, requiring teacher evaluations or using grant programs to influence state education policy.”  No more Race to Top competitions.

 This is all good news.  Going forward, the kids would be tested according to the currently utilized subgroups and these scores would be publicly available which were the main innovations of the original NCLB.  States would still be required to take steps to improve schools not making the grade.  Moreover, now that almost all localities have adopted the Common Core Standards as well as uniform measures of proficiency, we are on our way achieving the pillars of high standards, accountability, and autonomy that has led to significant improvements in public education in the District of Columbia.  But we have to be watchful.  The final bill has not yet been released.

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