Monday, February 03, 2014

Whatever happened to NCLB ?

 NCLB reaches 12 years.  Is it still an operative law?
Under  the No Child Left Behind  law (Public Law 107-110, 2001) 100 % of  students were to achieve proficiency in math and reading by 2014.  The law was due for re-authorization in 2009.  It has not been re-authorized.   Education Secretary Arne Duncan responded to criticism by  granting  waivers. At the time, he said, "America's most sweeping education law—the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as No Child Left Behind—is outmoded and constrains state and district efforts for innovation and reform. The smartest way to fix that is through a reauthorized ESEA law, but Congress has not agreed on a responsible bill. “

By Valerie Strauss,  The Answer Sheet. Updated: February 3 

It’s the year that all U.S. public schools were supposed to reach 100% student proficiency. It didn’t happen, of course. The law under which that was mandated, No Child Left Behind, has crashed and burned, but, unfortunately, its worst ideas haven’t. Writing about this is Lisa Guisbond of The National Center for Fair & Open Testing, known as FairTest, a non-profit dedicated to ending the misuse of standardized tests.
By Lisa Guisbond
It’s 2014, the year all U.S. public schools were  supposed to reach 100% student proficiency, so said No Child Left Behind (NCLB).
No, you didn’t miss the fanfare.  One hundred percent proficiency didn’t happen. Not even close.  In fact, our classrooms are making even less progresstoward improving overall educational performance and narrowing racial test score gaps than before NCLB became law.
The problem is policy makers are still following NCLB’s test-and-punish path. The names of the tests may have changed, but the strategy remains the same. As the late, great Pete Seeger sang, “When will we ever learn?”
It’s not that the law’s proponents haven’t acknowledged – repeatedly — the law’s vast unpopularity and negative consequences, including the way it made schools all about testing. Back in 2007, Congressman George Miller, an NCLB co-author, said, “No Child Left Behind may be the most negative brand in America.” The retiring congressman said recently that the results from the federally mandated tests were intended to measure school progress and drive improvements. Instead, he said, “the mission became about the test.”

Eight districts in California have received waivers from NCLB requirements.

Aug.13, 2013.
SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today issued the following statement after the U.S. Department of Education announced conditional approval of No Child Left Behind waiver applications by eight California school districts:
"All California schools deserve relief from the unworkable mandates of No Child Left Behind, so it's noteworthy that a few districts have—temporarily at least—managed to navigate the complex waiver requirements imposed by the Administration," Torlakson said. "I continue to believe that Congress should make it a priority to revise NCLB, and that relief from the failings of federal policy should not be reserved only for those prepared to provide Washington an ever-expanding role in the operation of California's public schools."

Congress hasn't  reauthorized the law.   Congressman George Miller, one of the authors of the law says “chances are “slim” that the current Congress will take action on the legislation, even though it should have been reauthorized in 2007.”
Forty two states have received  a waiver from the NCLB law, and as part of that process the Education Department allowed states to set "ambitious but achievable" achievement targets. States can choose, for instance, to cut the achievement gap between subgroup students (such as racial minorities) and other students in half in six years.
Sept. 2013. 
The  California Legislature, by passing Assembly Bill 484 in September, put the state out of compliance with the federal testing requirements law of NCLB. AB 484 ends most state standardized tests, including English language arts and math for grades 3 to 8 and 11, which are required annually under the No Child Left Behind law. Instead, the state is requiring that all districts administer a preliminary test in the Common Core State Standards in either math or English language arts – but not both – in those grades. In her letter, Assistant Secretary of Education Deborah Delisle said that offering one of the two tests wouldn’t meet the law or provide the results that the public relies on.
“By failing to administer a reading/language arts and mathematics assessment to all students in the tested grades, California would be unable to provide this important information to students, principals, teachers, and parents,” she wrote. “In addition, because its new policy violates federal law, California now risks significant enforcement action by the Department” – a loss of $15 million in administrative funding for the state Department of Education plus potentially the $30 million that the state received last year through Title I to administer standardized tests.
Duncan’s statement
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan released the following statement in reaction to a  draft of AB 484, approved by the  California’s legislature to exempt millions of students from state assessments:
“A request from California to not measure the achievement of millions of students this year is not something we could approve in good conscience. Raising standards to better prepare students for college and careers is absolutely the right thing to do, but letting an entire school year pass for millions of students without sharing information on their schools’ performance with them and their families is the wrong way to go about this transition. No one wants to over-test, but if you are going to support all students’ achievement, you need to know how all students are doing. If California moves forward with a plan that fails to assess all its students, as required by federal law, the Department will be forced to take action, which could include withholding funds from the state.
“In states like California that will be field-testing more sophisticated and useful assessments this school year, the Department has offered flexibility to allow each student to take their state’s current assessment in English language arts and math or the new field tests in those subjects. That’s a thoughtful approach as states are transitioning to new standards. While standards and tests may not match up perfectly yet, backing away entirely from accountability and transparency is not good for students, parents, schools and districts.
“California has demonstrated its leadership by raising its standards, investing in their implementation and working with other states to develop new assessments, and I urge the state to continue to be a positive force for reform.” Sept.9, 2013.

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