Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Obama Administration Exempting Schools From Federal Law’s Testing Mandate... because too many students are failing?

State and local education officials have been begging the federal government for relief from student testing mandates in the federal No Child Left Behind law, but school starts soon and Congress still hasn't answered the call.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan says he will announce a new waiver system Monday to give schools a break.

The plan to offer waivers to all 50 states, as long as they meet other school reform requirements, comes at the request of President Barack Obama, Duncan said. More details on the waivers will come in September, he said.

The goal of the No Child Left Behind law is to have every student proficient in math and reading by 2014. States have been required to bring more students up to the math and reading standards each year, based on tests that usually take place each spring. The step-by-step ramping up of the 9-year-old law has caused heartburn in states and most school districts, because more and more schools are labeled as failures as too few of their students meet testing goals.

Critics say the benchmarks are unrealistic and brands schools as failures even if they make progress. Schools and districts where too few kids pass the tests for several years are subject to sanctions that can include firing teachers or closing the school entirely. (more)