SCHOOL BOARD NOTES
As the Obama Administration announced a process for states to seek relief from key provisions of No Child Left Behind, New Jersey state officials are considering asking for a waiver from the law’s requirements.
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), which relies heavily on student assessments, requires 100 percent of students to be proficient in reading and math (as per state-determined standards and tests) by 2014. Schools that do not achieve proficiency are deemed to be “in need of improvement.”
“With the new school year fast approaching and still no bill to reform NCLB, it’s time to create a process for states to gain flexibility from key provisions of the law, provided that they are willing to embrace education reform,” U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in an August 8announcement of the NCLB flexibility.
“We will not be giving states a pass on accountability,” Duncan added, noting that waivers will only be given to states that are initiating reform efforts.
Support for Proposal In New Jersey, Acting Education Commissioner Christopher D. Cerf applauded the news.
Cerf said NCLB has played a critical role in advancing educational goals “by shining a light on student achievement – both in the aggregate and by socio-economic status and other subgroups – and by reinforcing that schools' and districts' failure to advance student learning must have real consequences.”
Cerf added, “However, as the secretary acknowledges, the law suffers from some basic flaws, including its failure to give credit for progress (as opposed to absolute performance), its one-size-fits-all approach to labeling schools as ‘failing,’ and the perverse incentive it has created for some states to water down academic standards.”
Waiver Considered Cerf said the state is “actively considering a waiver” as state officials await further clarification of the criteria from Secretary Duncan.
The New Jersey School Boards Association has also raised concerns about NCLB’s rigidity, and that it had not changed to include more accurate methods to measure progress toward student achievement.
The U.S. Department of Education said it will continue to gather ideas from states in the coming weeks, and details of its proposal will be rolled out in mid-September.
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