Was New Hampshire right to withdraw from No Child Left Behind?
By: LFDA Editor
The federal No Child Left Behind Act
, passed in 2001 under the Bush Administration, was meant to provide benchmarks of quality for America's schools in order to improve the nation's public education.
But the question, over a decade later, was whether the law was helping or hurting schools, particularly those in the Granite State.
In its most recent annual assessment of schools, using the "No Child" criteria, the state Department of Education found that 66 percent of the school districts and 71 percent of individual schools failed to make "Adequate Yearly Progress" in one or more areas.
Among the 19 criteria to achieve a passing grade in Adequate Yearly Progress -- known as AYP -- are:
performance targets through standardized testing for students in reading and mathematics,
meeting state targets for student participation, attendance, and high school graduation.
Individual district and school reports are available on the state education department's web site.
Here are some pros and cons of the legislation, according to Educational Research Newsletter:
Why bother with reform?
PRO: Reform is needed to counter declining trends in SAT and ACT scores and the mediocre performance of U.S. students in international rankings.
CON: SAT scores declined during the 1970s and 1980s because more students aspired to go to college and took the tests, not because of performance factors.
Why standardized testing?
PRO: It measures a common core of knowledge that teachers should teach and students should learn. Without common standards, it is difficult to compare grades across teachers and schools.
CON: By imposing standards on students' minds we are, in effect, depriving them of their fundamental intellectual freedom by applying one standard set of knowledge.
President Barack Obama offered legislation that would replace the law’s pass-fail school grading system with one that would measure individual students’ academic growth and judge schools based not on test scores alone but also on indicators like pupil attendance, graduation rates and learning climate.
States can request a waiver from the NCLB requirements. In September 2012, New Hampshire applied for such a waiver. Throughout 2013 New Hampshire worked with the U.S. Department of Education to revise the application. The federal government approved the waiver in June 2013.
What to you think? Were the schools in your district helped or hurt by the No Child Left Behind Act standards?