NCLB: The Next Generation

By Alain Jehlen

More focus on standardized test scores and new ways to punish educators. That’s what the Obama Administration has proposed in a “Blueprint” for revising No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Firing entire staffs over low test scores, as happened in Rhode Island and other states, is one of the strategies endorsed by the Blueprint.

Meanwhile, NEA has sent Congress its own set of recommendations, calling for fewer standardized tests and more proven strategies to help struggling schools. (Click on the video at right to see an excerpt from President Van Roekel’s testimony to Congress. NEA and its affiliates have also developed a Priority Schools Campaign for some of the most challenging schools.)

NCLB is the current incarnation of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which is overdue to be rewritten and renamed. The Administration wants Congress to take action by August.

NEA supports the goals and some elements of the Administration’s Blueprint. Two examples: The Blueprint says schools should get credit for improvement, even if students don’t yet meet standards. And the 2014 deadline for every child to be “proficient”—achievable only by dumbing down the meaning of that word—is out.

But there are big differences. Here are some highlights:

Illustration: Dan Wasserman, The Boston Globe