Legislators to Tackle No Child Left Behind Rewrite


Congress has renewed the ongoing debate over national standards as it attempts to rewrite the 2001 No Child Left Behind Law eight years after it expired.

Legislators will begin the debate this week in an effort to determine who should make classroom practice decisions: the federal government or individual states.  The results could decrease the current emphasis on testing and offer more control over failing schools to states and local authorities.

However, the topic is a heated one, and is debate expected to last weeks or even months.  One major issue at hand concerning education funding; while the Senate bill would offer more money to schools in need, the House version has funding linked to individual students rather than entire districts, writes Isaac Stanley-Becker for The Wall Street Journal.

An update to the 2002 law saw the bill’s main sponsor, Senator Lamar Alexander, calling it “the most effective path toward higher standards, better teaching and real accountability.”

While the annual reading and math tests would continue to be administered, the suggested “Every Child Achieves Act” would put more of the decision-making onto individual states in terms of how best to use the assessment results to measure school and teacher performance.

In addition, the federal government would not be allowed to require, or strongly suggest, that any specific academic standards are adopted, which would hold true for the Common Core standards currently being pushed.  While they were originally drafted by the states, they have become a point of contention among those arguing that the federal government should have a smaller role in education, reports Jennifer Kerr for KVVU-TV.

“When we don’t hold our schools and states accountable for educating every child, it is the kids from our low-income backgrounds, kids with disabilities, kids who are learning English and kids of color who too often do fall through the cracks,” said co-author Senator Patty Murray.

In the meantime, the White House has issued a statement on the topic, calling for additional revisions to be made concerning school accountability.  “Parents, families and communities deserve to know that when children fall behind, their schools will take action to improve,” it said.

The statement went on to ask for a cap to be placed on the amount of time allowed to be spent each year on standardized testing, as well as a revision that would make parental notification a requirement when testing begins to take up too much learning time in the classroom.