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Waivers and No Child Left Behind


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No child left behind an education reform bill signed into law in 2002 could finally be coming to an end. The president has recently released ten states from some of the law's toughest requirements. Those states had to agree to a federally approved plan and will now be free to evaluate students on more than just test scores. The president’s decision to let states claim these waivers was a clear acknowledgement that the law's main goal of getting all students up to an acceptable level in reading and math by 2014, is not within reach.

No Child Left Behind was one of President George W. Bush's most prolific domestic accomplishments, and was passed with widespread bipartisan support in Congress. It has been up for renewal since 2007. But lawmakers have been hindered for years by opposing priorities, disagreements over how much of a federal role there should be in schools and, in the recent Congress, partisan gridlock.

At the core of the No Child Left Behind Act were a number of measures intended to make extensive gains in student achievement and to hold states and schools more accountable for student progress. Opponents of NCLB, which includes all major teachers’ unions, claim that the act has not been successful in improving education in public schools, especially high schools, as evident by the end results where over fifty percent of schools failed to meet the requirements.

Opponents also claim that standardized testing, which is a major aspect of no child left behind is flawed leading to the conclusion that educators now have to teach to a test instead of actually teaching. Some critics believe that the federal government has no constitutional authority in the education arena, and that federal participation takes away state and local control over education of their children.

The waivers are not necessarily a release from NCLB it si given in exchange for a promise from the schools to improve the way they teach and evaluate students. The states must show they can better prepare their children for college and careers, develop better evaluation systems, set better targets for improving achievement among all students, and, finally, better reward the best performing schools and work to improve the worst.

While there is need for education reform, and obviously No Child Left Behind has missed the mark, it is a start and shows that we need to improve our educational system in a drastic way before we are all left behind.

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