From the Washington Post:

The Obama administration will seek to scrap a key metric in the eight-year-old No Child Left Behind law — the standard of “adequate yearly progress” for public schools — as it develops a new formula to hold schools accountable for student performance, according to a budget document made public Monday.

Under the law, schools are rated on how many of their students pass state reading and math tests. Target pass rates rise each year toward a standard of universal proficiency by 2014 for all groups — a goal experts have long called utopian.

The twin concepts of adequate yearly progress, known as AYP, and the 2014 target for eliminating achievement gaps by race, ethnicity and family income are the bedrock of the public school accountability system. Schools in the Washington area and elsewhere for years have felt the sting of failing to “meet AYP,” with consequences ranging up to state-ordered interventions for those that perennially fall short.

No Child Left Behind sounded great on paper and had bi-partisan support. After all, who wants to leave some kids behind. The bi-partisan support quickly died off once NCLB left Congress, the president’s desk and landed squarely in the school house.

Northern Virginia schools were hit hard by NCLB. The 4 main subgroups used to determine AYP are economically disadvantaged, minority, ESOL, and special ED. The influx of immigrant children into the system made making AYP very difficult for some schools because many immigrant families were often poor, minority and in need of ESOL services. The federal ‘hit’ became threefold.  (or if special ed also, fourfold)  Tremendous pressure has been put on schools to make AYP.  At one point, there was threat of losing federal funding.  No principal wanted low test scores or to not show progress.   Several  principals in Prince William County lost their job because of low school wide test scores.  Others moved on to greener pastures where the pressure wasn’t quite so strong.  Obviously, those principals in the schools where the kids had the greatest needs were  the most at risk.  

Parents probably have no idea how much of the school day revolves around the school making AYP.  They probably have no idea how many resources go in to jumping through the federal hoops.  It isn’t advertised.   The concentration of school energy on to the 4 major subgroups needs to be redirected.   Those kids who are just average joes need to get the attention for a while as well as their share of the pie. 

Good for the Obama adminstration if they tweek NCLB so it helps kids who need a boost without taking away from average kids.  The AYP must be de-emphasised.  The excessive testing must stop.  Educators must not be subjected to this insane obsession with making AYP when the average person in the system cannot even figure out what numbers are needed to perform.  The federal guns need to be put away and schools need to get back to normal. 

No Child Left Behind, oddly enough, was championed by President George Bush and Senator Edward Kennedy.  I don’t think either of them ever realized the monster they unleashed on the education system nation wide. 

The Obama administrations plans the following, according to the Post:

“The reauthorization plan would replace ‘adequate yearly progress’ with a broader picture of school performance that looks at student growth and school progress,” the document states. “States would measure school performance and differentiate schools on the basis of progress in getting all subgroups of students on track to CCR [college and career readiness], the growth of individual students toward CCR, progress toward closing subgroup achievement gaps, graduation rates (at the high school level) and other measures as appropriate.”

That sounds to me like more educational-ese.  The NY Times reported Sunday that the 2014 deadline for 100% pass rate was going to be repealed.  However, Education Secretary Duncan stated that no decision had been reached.  This administration needs to prioritize this bad legislation and make it go away.  I suggest repealing the entire act.  So far, no child has been left with a BEHIND.  There are just some things that cannot be fixed.  This legislation is one of those things.

Put that dog back on the leash!

22 Thoughts to “Obama to Reign in NCLB…Hopefully”

  1. Diversity Gal

    Sounds good to me, but I would like more detailed information on how these things will be measured. I don’t want to get too excited if the prior measures are just going to be renamed.

  2. Totally agree, DG. A rose by any other name still …

    I want real information, not gobbledy goop.

    Actually, I would like to see NCLB repealed. It has done a great deal to destroy education and student learning.

  3. kelly3406

    NCLB is small potatoes. Millions of students were inspired to work hard in the 60s and 70s because they wanted to be involved in America’s space program. Well today, the Obama administration cancelled America’s human spaceflight program.

    Instead of investing in the Aries I launch vehicle and Orion spacecraft needed to reach the moon, the Administration plans to focus on commercial spacecraft and the ISS. The cancellation today leaves the United States with no plan for human space flight and essentially abandons our leadership in space.

    Hope and change indeed!!

  4. DB

    I think that measuring the yearly progress of students would actually be quite simple. Pre K students (in VA state funded preschools) already take the PALS 3x per year: fall, mid-year, and spring and the scores are reported to the state. Right there the progress of these students can be tracked and measured. Head start students in Manassas, pwc, and MP also take the PALS. In K-2 PALS and DRA are given and somewhere between second and fourth grade, students are also given the Cogat and later the Stanford 10 is given as well. Both tests are nationally normed. On top of that, ESOL students are given tests that measure their growth in English. K students are assessed 2x, fall and spring, using the WIDA (in Man City). They are tested yearly after that until they “test out” and move to monitor status. All of these tests don’t even include the district developed tests such as MAP or CMA which give even more data as to student progress. Teachers also collect work samples through out the year. Additionally, schools, teachers, and districts use this data to track the progress of their students to be sure that they are progressing, and provide remediation as necessary. There are times when a student may not pass an SOL test in 3rd, but teachers and principals who know where that child began and how far they have come will still be pleased for that student even if they know the feds are only going to look at the test score.

  5. Emma

    @kelly3406 It’s simply wish fulfillment by those who are embarrassed by the concept of world superpower status and would prefer to see their own country taken down a peg or two. This news saddened me today.

    “The influx of immigrant children into the system made making AYP very difficult for some schools because many immigrant families were often poor, minority and in need of ESOL services. The federal ‘hit’ became threefold.”

    NCLB is yet another example of our federal government failing us by refusing to secure our borders and then burdening school districts with unachievable benchmarks for progress for the legions of ESOL students. It needs to be repealed.

  6. I had not heard that sad news about the space program. Many people feel it is a waste of money.

    Kelly, I am not sure that today’s kids have been inspired because of our space program. It has gotten to be rather routine. Kids in the 50s, 60s, 70s found the space program exciting, almost miraculous. Technology has changed so much since then that I don’t think the average kid even notices. After all, don’t all kids have light sabers? Maybe Star Wars and similar films spoiled the space program for kids. Maybe every family having a computer spoiled it. Who knows. Kids don’t think computers existed then anyway. They don’t realize that without computers those early space ventures would not have happened.

    All this discussion is making me think of one of my favorite movies: October Skies.

  7. Emma, I have to agree with you about NCLB. I wouldn’t say it is another example as much as I would say it is one of those all encompassing laws that forever alters how we do things. I believe NCLB has stolen education from the average child. It has turned learning into testing and data and not much more.

  8. NCLB was a feel good project for Congress so that they could say that they were DOING SOMETHING to improve the nation’s schools. Of course, Congress actually has exactly NO authority as per the the Constitution do interfere with the States’ role in education……

    Repeal it and defund the department of Education.

    And while we’re doing that, lets get rid of the SOL’s and give more authority back to the teachers.

  9. Old Fashion Liberal

    Cute! We cannot meet the standard so we eradicate the standard. Then we thump our chests about wonderful we are. That solves the problem? What about the fact we have given untrustworthy people our money to spend, and we have made no effort to hold them accountable? Do you understand what it means to buy a pig in a poke?

    1. The Constitution provides no authority whatsoever to spend money on public education. We have put a bunch oath breakers in charge of educating children.
    2. More money is not the solution. Nobody can show how Federal involvement is helping. We have added another layer of bureaucracy. We already have a School Board, the Board of County Supervisors, and General Assembly. How many people do we need to put in charge? How many cooks do you want deciding how to cook your dinner?
    3. Parents, not government, should make education decisions. It is immoral for government to take people’s money away from them just so that the majority can tell them how to educate their kids. Nazis do that kind of crap.
    4. Socialism does not work. Even Republicans cannot make it work, and Democrats will just screw it up worse.

  10. Elena

    Oh PLEASE, can we have ONE conversation where we don’t blame latino’s!

    I became a middle school counselor when SOL’s were first introduced. I remember going to an inservice training. What was clear to me, even then, was that THIS was NOT going to increase the learning for kids who would need the most help, the kids that bring down the scores of schools, it would simply create an unintended class system. All NCLB has done is require teachers to teach to the test. Having some measure of how kids are doing is imperative, but NCLB was simply not the right tool. It was an unfunded mandate and the schools that WERE the MOST neediest were the ones that tended to suffer the most consequences. All school are NOT equal. Rachel Carson Middle School in Herndon is NOT the same as Glasgow Middle School in Baily’s Crossroads.

  11. Poor Richard

    Agree with Emma in comment #5.
    “NCLB is yet another example of our federal government failing us by refusing
    to secure our borders and then burdening school districts with unachievable
    benchmarks for progress for the legions of ESOL students. It heads to be

    – The NCLB requires each cohort to meet benchmarks. A school can meet them
    for Blacks and Whites, but not meet them for Hispanics (many newly arrived
    and often illiterate in their own language) and be labeled a “Failed School”
    and subject to various penalties from the state and Feds.
    – Another “penalty” is that the WaPo and others publish list with the
    school “performing poorly” which drives parents of potential residents
    and students away. The school suddenly “looks bad”.
    – General support for the school begins to wane as those who can, move
    and others opt to send their children to private or parochial schools.
    Either way, the most active and engaged parents and their children
    go in other directions — taking their political and funding influence and
    savy with them.
    – There IS too close a relationship between a large ESOL number and
    being beat up by NCLB requirements to ignore. We shouldn’t give
    schools a major challenge and kick them in the teeth at the same time.
    There has to be a better way – for our schools – for our children.

  12. I don’t think it is possible to discuss NCLB without discussing minorities and the other 3 major areas that affect schools in our area. I don’t blame the kids, I blame those making people jump through hoops to manipulate these kids into passing.

    It doesn’t matter where immigrants are from. The kids often need ESOL and live below the poverty level which means they qualify for free lunch. They also are tested way too soon. Fairfax County challenged this criteria several years ago. I forget the outcome. It is ridiculous to give an kid whose first language is not English an SOL test after only being in this country a couple of years. Talk about programming a kid for failure. The kid, the teacher, the principal, the school, the county the state, for that matter.

  13. I am going to have to bristle a bit over the ‘illiterate in their own language’ statement , PR. If kids are illiterate, it is up to the educational institution to make them literate.

    Many years ago I went to school not knowing how to read or write. My mother didn’t teach me because she didn’t want me to get bored.

    Many immigrant kids don’t know how to speak English at first. It doesn’t matter if they are middle eastern, African, Korean,vietnamese, Mexican, they need to be taught English. They should not be tested so soon.

    Kids aren’t tested in any language but English so if they are illiterate in their first language It doesn’t matter. It might be because they were too young to attend school before they immigrated. In that case, they often speak the language fluently but don’t read or write it.

  14. Poor Richard

    M-H, agree with you that the kids are not at fault, but the system
    is flawed. It punishes communities and teachers that happen to
    have large numbers of ESOL students. That is the bottom line.
    Show up in McLean with busloads of HS ESOL students who
    aren’t even able to write their names and you will hear even the
    pompous liberal elites scream for mercy for their dear schools.

  15. Poor Richard

    Poor illiterate and most often unmotivated children are expensive’
    and difficult to educate. Many factors are in play -poor peer influence,
    family norms, self control, etc. I don’t blame the child, but I’m also not
    quick to blame schools and teachers for not performing magic.

    (The racism card doesn’t play when you see Asians, also sometimes
    in the country for a short period, often being class academic leaders).

  16. I actually blame some of the kids when they don’t try and are satisfied to not do their assignments and disrupt classes, thus preventing others from learning. But I digress….

    But I don’t blame immigrant kids for the woes of NCLB. It is horribly flawed legislation that has placed an undo burden on many communities in this country. Areas that don’t have a lot of immigrants are often strapped by having to provide special services for kids. Economically depressed areas with 75% free and reduced lunch kids have their work cut out for them also.

  17. A PW County Resident


    My only comment about the space program is that we will probably lose new technologies in the future. People forget where things like teflon and kelvar (I believe) came from. It is too bad that people can only see going to the moon as a benefit for the program.

    Necessity is the mother of invention and without the necessity we lose a little bit of invention.

    I also think that on the drawing board, NCLB was a great concept but like most government programs, the devil is in the detail. So if people think it can’t be fixed to its original concept, then eliminate it and replace it with something else that will probably fail. Works for me 🙂

  18. A PW County Resident

    By the way, the last paragraph was a general comment and nothing to do with Wolfie’s comments.

  19. Old Fashioned Liberal,

    Welcome. I don’t recall seeing you here before today. Meeting the standard? How do you get every single child in America to pass criterion referenced tests? Seems like unrealistic expectations to me. No one is advocating socialism.

    I would rather NCLB just ride on off into the sunset. It has nothing to do with politics. My feelings have everything to do with NCLB just being bad policy.

    I agree with Rez about the various inventions being the result of the space program. It goes way beyond tang. Were it not for the space program, we wouldn’t have cable tv would we? Even the cable signals untimately come from satellite.

  20. NokesvilleNeighbor

    I love to see how those outside the classroom try to diagnose what is wrong inside. I can say pretty safely that NCLB was a great concept. It might be easier to achieve AYP if class sizes were not at oh….38 in ms science, or 33 in math, or 37 im la. It might be easier if inclusion classes had two teachers all the time, as designed, not every other day as it is now. So much comes from there being too many students and too many mandates. You might be amazed at what could happen if you let teachers…..teach!

  21. Nola

    NCLB needs to be repealed! I feel another major issue is school funding through property tax. Wealthy-area schools have more money than they need and poorer districts suffer tremendously. Something needs to be done. The governemnt builds prisons when they need to build schools. Obama should direct the money he wants to go towards college tuition and put that towards K-12 school systems. College is a choice, elementary is where we need to start. Don’t cut out music, art and gym!!!!! I want well-rounded and informed citizens in America.

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