President Obama made a major announcement on Friday regarding the status of the now-notorious No Child Left Behind Act, essentially scrapping a key requirement of that act and allowing states to develop their own requirements to meet federal education standards. So what will that mean for your kids?
Under the current wording of No Child Left Behind, schools must meet specific testing standards. If they fail to meet these levels, they are restricted in the ways that they can respond. For instance, schools that fail to meet testing targets must notify students of the failure and offer them the opportunity to enroll in another nearby school.
I received the first of these "failure" letters for my daughters' school two years ago. At the time, she was given a list of local schools that were not "failing" to which she could switch her enrollment. This year, all of the nearby schools were either in "failing" or "warning" status. For a number of years, experts have predicted that this was the direction that all schools were headed as No Child Left Behind restricted the methods that schools could use to pull themselves up from a failing status.
Obama insists that his recent move won't weaken education standards. Rather, the hope is that it will allow states to develop their own plans for assessing and achieving higher standards in education. Under Obama's plan, states can request a waiver from the Department of Education if they meet certain conditions.
"Higher standards are the right goal," Obama said Friday. "Accountability is the right goal. Closing the achievement gap is the right goal. And we've got to stay focused on those goals. But experience has taught us that in its implementation, No Child Left Behind had some serious flaws that are hurting our children instead of helping them."
The move brought cheers from educators around the country, with many states already indicating their plans to apply for the waiver. What will it mean for your child's school? It will depend on if your state applies for a waiver and, if it does, the type of plan the state develops to meet education goals. Stay tuned.