Changes Likely For NCLB

Earlier this year, the Obama administration discussed plans to change the No Child Left Behind act with the media. Journalists and education administrators alike thought Obama was bluffing, trying to create action in policy makers.  It was no bluff.

The Obama administration asked Congress to rewrite the No Child Left Behind law on Monday, March 14, in an effort to accelerate its public education overhaul, one of Obama’s major goals, according to an article in the Washington Post.

The Obama administration has been aggressively pursuing education reform and plans to have the new version of No Child Left Behind law implemented by the fall of 2012.

“I want every child in this country to head back to school in the fall knowing that their education is America’s priority,” Obama said in a speech at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, Virginia. “Let’s seize this education moment. Let’s fix No Child Left Behind.”

Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s announcement that 82 % of public schools could be labeled “failing” in 2011 – up 37% from 2010 – sparked this action. But, some education experts believe that Duncan’s numbers are inflated.

However, lawmakers may not have enough time to change this bill before next fall. Other debates such as merit-based teacher salaries, teacher tenure and public vouchers for students to attend private schools could further complicate the process.

With his changes, Obama plans to take most of the federal oversight out of average- and well-performing public schools but then use aggressive measures and oversight to fix underachieving schools.

The original bill was created in 2002 by former President George W. Bush to addresses school performance ratings, standardized testing, teacher quality, academic standards and equity for lower-income students.

Currently, the No Child Left Behind law requires schools to test their students every year in reading and math, measuring their progress in closing achievement gaps. Schools that do not test well can face penalties as strict as a state takeover.

Lawmakers have been meeting for over a year to reach a bipartisan agreement for this bill. Obama met with House and Senate education leaders in mid-March.  Changing the original No Child Left Behind Law was first debated in 2007; however, Congress took no action then.