WASHINGTON (September 23, 2011) This morning, President Obama announced a plan to waive some of the accountability provisions of No Child Left Behind. Each state will have the opportunity to submit a waiver request that outlines how they would tackle the following challenges:
- Adopt and implement higher level standards and assessments that aim all of their kids for college and career.
- Build an accountability system that sets ambitious but achievable goals for their schools and measures progress in increasing overall achievement and closing gaps.
- Take action to improve their persistently low-performing schools.
- Develop an honest evaluation system that gives their educators the feedback they need to improve their practice and boost student learning.
This plan strikes a new balance between the federal and state roles in educating our nations children. It does not prescribe particular systems or interventions for the vast majority of schools, instead setting strong goals for states and giving them the flexibility to determine how their schools and districts will meet them. Indeed, the plan echoes the Secretary of Educations mantra that the role of the federal government should be tight on goals and loose on means.
For years, states have been demanding the kind of flexibility offered today. Theyve said that the terms of NCLB were unrealistic. Theyve highlighted the fact that their schools werent given credit for student growth. And theyve pointed out that the laws required interventions in schools that missed their goals created a damaging one size fits all approach to school improvement. In short, theyve told us that they know how to do it better. In fact, far too many state leaders spent a lot of time and energy over the past decade bashing the law instead of getting all of their students to read and do math at grade level.
Now, the Obama administration has handed states a responsible framework in which they can exercise the flexibility they said they wanted. Its time for them to stand and deliver on behalf of all students, but particularly those who are farthest behind.