The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law maybe soon a thing of the past, according to recent discussions on Capitol Hill and at the U.S. Education Department.
Lawmakers passed NCLB eight years ago after the legislation had been known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965. The 670-page bill has received a lot attention because it requires that public schools show that their students are making “Adequate Yearly Progress,” or face penalties ranging from loss of funding to school takeovers by states.
For the past several months, there’s been talk about the upcoming reauthorization of ESEA (everyone agrees the NCLB name should be forgotten), but no one was sure when it might happen. During the past couple of weeks, it has become clear that it is happening now!
Based on Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s remarks at the Department of Education, and what I’ve heard from congressional staffers in several meetings, the reauthorization process for ESEA is under way. The Department of Education is drafting ideas and staffers are collecting thoughts, and even language, in preparation for when Congress takes up the issue, most likely early next year.
The role of testing is definitely going to be a major part of the discussion. Secretary Duncan has made his views known last month during a speech at the Department of Education.
“Until states develop better assessments – which we will support and fund through Race to the Top (funding for schools via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) — we must rely on standardized tests to monitor progress. But, this is an important area for reform and an important conversation to have.”
I have spoken with staffers who say testing is something that needs a careful reassessment and is a possible target for removal from ESEA.
What role should testing have in the ESEA reauthorization? I’m not the only one asking that around DC these days. Let me know what you think about testing in the public schools. Better yet, tell your senators and representatives. Now is the time to tell them!