February 9th, 2012
05:24 PM ET

10 states freed from 'No Child Left Behind' requirements

by the CNN Wire Staff

Washington (CNN) - Ten states are being granted waivers to free them from some requirements of the No Child Left Behind education reform law, with President Barack Obama explaining Thursday that the move aims to "combine greater freedom with greater accountability."

Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Tennessee will no longer have to meet 2014 targets set by the law.

In exchange for that flexibility, the states "have agreed to raise standards, improve accountability, and undertake essential reforms to improve teacher effectiveness," the White House said in a statement Thursday morning.

Obama elaborated on the rationale for the decision later in the day, speaking at a White House event attended by teachers and school superintendents.

He stressed that his administration remains committed to the overarching goals of raising standards and closing the achievement gap in the nation's public schools. At the same time, "We determined we need a different approach" than what was prescribed by the landmark legislation.

"We've offered every state the same deal: We've said, if you're willing to set higher, more honest standards then we're going to give you the flexibility to meet those standards," Obama said.

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Filed under: NCLB • Policy • Practice
Five minute primer: No Child Left Behind
President Barack Obama shakes hands with U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan while speaking at an event on reform of the No Child Left Behind Act in September 2011.
February 9th, 2012
11:15 AM ET

Five minute primer: No Child Left Behind

by Donna Krache, CNN

Update: President Obama announced today that ten states have qualified for waivers from No Child Left Behind (NCLB) mandates.  In exchange for this flexibility, the states will implement accountability, raise standards and improve teacher effectiveness.  The NCLB primer that follows was first published last month, on the tenth anniversary of the law's signing.

(CNN) Ten years ago, on January 8, 2002, President George W. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act into law.  Since then, the law has been the topic of numerous discussions among lawmakers, educators and parents. Want to know more about it?  If you’ve got five minutes, you can learn the basics of NCLB here. Read on.

Background

NCLB, as it came to be called, enjoyed bipartisan support in its early days. Although it is often associated with President George W. Bush, one of its sponsors was the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Massachusetts. The bill was actually an update of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, which was aimed at supporting disadvantaged students in low-income area schools. ESEA was part of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. With Bush’s signature in 2002, NCLB became the most sweeping federal legislation on education, with far-reaching impact in the nation’s schools.

Focus

There are many provisions to NCLB, including sections on safe and drug-free schools and parental involvement, but its intention is to drive and measure student achievement.  At the heart of the law is a mandate for accountability and measured student outcomes, derived primarily from state-administered standardized tests that are given annually in grades 3 through 8 in math and reading.

Under NCLB, all schools are striving toward “100 percent proficiency” in math and reading by the 2013-2014 school year. That means that all students must perform to satisfaction on state tests in these subject areas by spring 2014.  Since this provision went into effect, states have set their own benchmarks toward achieving the 100% goal. The yearly benchmarks are called Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP.
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My View: How to help students cope with change
When students return to Miramonte Elementary School on Thursday, they will be met by a new staff.
February 9th, 2012
07:02 AM ET

My View: How to help students cope with change

Courtesy National PTA By Betsy Landers, Special to CNN

Editor’s note:  Betsy Landers is president of the National PTA.

There is no excuse for the child abuse that the police say happened at Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles. The National PTA joins parents everywhere in shock and outrage, especially those families directly affected.

The protection of children in all school settings is a fundamental right and of the utmost priority for the National PTA. A safe environment is crucial to learning, and every child in every city deserves to feel safe in school.

Miramonte administrators have replaced the faculty and staff, a move they believe will keep children safe. Students will return Thursday to new teachers and the presence of social workers. While promoting a safer environment, this move also creates a tremendous amount of change, which can interrupt the learning process.

Students will have to adjust. As with many experiences, parents can and should play a key role in helping the children cope with the change. What can parents do?
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Filed under: Elementary school • Issues • Policy • Practice • Voices