The Latest on the New Version of No Child Left Behind

Monday, February 9, 2015 -- Scott Sterling

The legislation surrounding the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has been going on for a few years now (can you believe it’s been around since 2001?). But, like many things in Washington, movement on the issue has slowed to a crawl. The law has actually been up for renewal since 2007. Here’s what we currently know, as well as some speculation on whether we’ll see anything in our lifetimes.

What the White House wants

The Obama administration’s “Blueprint for Reform” actually agrees with a lot of what was started by the original NCLB from the George W. Bush administration. Higher standards would be mandatory. Assessments would still be given once a year. Accountability would still be sought for everyone. Race to the Top, an idea from the current administration based around the economic stimulus, would be expanded.

An interesting new idea comes from the establishment of an Investing in Innovation Fund. The government would help fund and reward programs that are having an impact on student achievement, particularly in poorer schools. These programs could include anything, such as an afterschool program or a blended learning scheme, and they could be run not only by school districts and charters but also community organizations, neighborhood groups, and anyone else with a vested interest in improving education. Details aren’t offered.

What Congress wants

With the Republicans winning control of both chambers of Congress, the fight is starting to coalesce around predictable lines. Congress wants less federal oversight and more state control on how often assessments occur and what is tested on them.

The Obama administration recently reiterated that it believes annual testing is crucial in informing stakeholders about the effectiveness of the system. But teachers, students, and parents are starting to raise their voices about overtesting. That seems to be the sticking point in anything getting done, considering that the president would need to sign a new law.

What happens if negotiations fall apart?

What happens if states can’t or won’t be able to follow current points in the law? They can receive a waiver from NCLB requirements. Over 40 states have one. The process has led to confusion and competitiveness among states. Certain states get renewed fairly easily. Others have to fight for it. There is often a tradeoff between the rules states can’t follow and what the administration wants, like adoption of the Common Core.

Chances are that assessment will remain a big focus in education. Fortunately, we have a section of the Edmentum blog dedicated to helping you prepare students for testing. Check it out!