After 10 years of President George W. Bush’s implementation of the No Child Left Behind act, states are applying for waivers to bypass it. According to CBS News, 10 states have already qualified for such waivers: Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Colorado. New Mexico is the latest state to qualify for the waiver, says the Huffington Post.
CBS says that 28 more states—plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico—have noted that they are seeking waivers as well. Why the mad scramble? Because a deadline for meeting certain education requirements approaches that may seem out of reach for many schools under No Child Left Behind.
The entire No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 can be found here.
The No Child Left Behind act stipulates that all students should be proficient in reading and math by the 2013-2014 school year. Progress in these areas is measured through standardized testing.
Fox News Latino argues that this standard has often been too rigid for English language learners or the economically disadvantaged.
Several states, like New Mexico, had not been keeping up to the No Child Left Behind standard, according to the Huffington Post. The new policy under the Obama administration calls for plans showing they will prepare students for careers and college, rewarding the schools that perform the best and focusing on helping the schools that perform the worst.
Instead of the pass/fail system of grading progress under No Child Left Behind, schools with waivers can be graded on a letter grade scale of A to F.
But the act also requires school districts to set aside 20 percent of their federal Title 1 funds each year to provide for tutoring and school choice options for economically disadvantaged students, says the Tampa Bay Times.
To be specific, these are the students in schools with a large low-income population that qualify for free or reduced-priced lunches.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, 74,299 students in Florida received tutoring services last school year. Now that Florida has wriggled itself free of the No Child Left Behind Act, it can choose to differently spend those funds that would otherwise be going to tutoring low-income students.
But I honestly can’t think of a better use of that 20 percent of Title 1 school dollars. If the aim is to lessen the inequality gap and to better educate all students of all income levels, the free tutoring services offer a good method of progressing to that.
Statistics and interactive U.S maps can be found on the No Child Left Behind website.
One chart that especially got my attention was the chart that measured state success in continuous growth toward the 100 percent proficiency standard of No Child Left Behind. It can be found here.
According to the chart, six states and the District of Columbia have not appeared to be on track toward the goal. Eight states appear to be partially on track. But the rest of the states are on track, according to these statistics.
Time will tell us if this new waiver system is an advantageous idea. Either way, I acknowledge the great care and consideration that must be put into making decisions about education policy.