It’s nice to leave ‘No Child Left Behind’ behind

Published 4:21 pm Friday, February 10, 2012

Teachers and administrators across the state likely breathed a sigh of relief Thursday, after the U.S. Dept. of Education announced that Georgia and nine other states are now free of the requirements of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. Twenty-eight other states are expected to ask for waivers in the near future.

The NCLB law, originally passed by President George W. Bush in 2001, requires all students to be proficient in reading and math by 2014. While the law was admirable in its goals, it simply was not practical.

According to the Associated Press, President Barack Obama’s executive action will require waiver-receiving states to still show that they will “prepare children for college and careers, set new targets for improving achievement among all students, reward the best performing schools and focus help on the ones doing the worst.”

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One of the problems with the NCLB act is that it labeled a number of schools with pejoratives like “needs improvement,” simply for coming a few points short of meeting a rather arbitrary benchmark. In addition, the requirements became stricter each year, meaning that more and more schools were labeled as “failing to make adequate yearly progress (AYP),” even though they may have actually improved from year to year. According to the AP story, almost half of schools in the U.S. failed to make AYP last year. Regardless of how you feel about the public schools, it simply is not conceivable that 50 percent of the schools in the country are actually “failures.”

Under the waiver, schools will still be required to show that they are making progress, but they will not be under such impossible-to-reach standards. This is a positive step for public education.