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Note: Child Left Behind


The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), formerly known as NCLB was due to be reauthorized in 2007. Politics being what they are, eight years later and many failed attempts (we all know who’s to blame now don’t we?) Congress is poised to pass legislation that will undo many of the unpopular and ineffective requirements contained in NCLB (a Federal Initiative I referred to as; “Note: Child Left Behind.”)

In July 2015 The House of Representatives passed “The Student Success Act,” and the U.S. Senate, the “Every Child Achieves Act.” Both intended to reauthorize ESEA. The next step of course is to “reconcile” the two Acts in Conference Committee.

Both the Senate and House bill would require annual assessment of students in reading and math in grades 3-5, and once in high school, and require that students are assessed in science once in grades 3-5, 6-9, and 10-12.

And here’s the good news: States would no longer be required to demonstrate (AYP) annual yearly progress or to use standardized tests as primary measures of teacher or school quality! This has to be one of the best features of these bills.

Both pieces of legislation return control to the states to set standards and goals for student based on those standards. The details about who is responsible for ensuring accountability for all students, what and when support will be given struggling districts and schools, and what consequences will be imposed if schools fail to demonstrate that all students are making progress are not yet set.

What this means is that educators at all levels, teachers, specialists, and administrators have a great opportunity for input on these details, and who is better than the people who “live and breathe this stuff” every day?

I always said, after 38 years in the field, I have seen many initiatives come and go, and all one has to do is wait for the pendulum to swing back in the other direction. The problem with ESEA turning into NCLB and then RTTT (Race to the Top) incentives further complicating things, the pendulum did not swing back, but kept on going, almost smashing the case it was in, swinging higher and higher into ROR’s (Realms of Ridiculousness).

Perhaps now, teachers will be able to teach without fear of being fired because some or even a few of their students failed to apply themselves despite their valiant efforts. Perhaps now you can get something done without having to look over your shoulders every minute. Perhaps now you can spend more time in instruction instead of assessment. Good news indeed!

Source: Advocacy In Action by Kelly Vaillancourt Strobach in the October 2015 “Communique’ “ a publication of the National Association of School Psychologists.

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