Ten states exempt from No Child Left Behind now trying new approaches

A week ago, 10 states found themselves in an interesting situation: exempt from No Child Left Behind.

Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee are the first states to no longer be bound by the No Child Left Behind restraints, and could soon be joined by many other states.

The main goal of NCLB is for all children to be proficient in math and science by 2014, but the United States is far from reaching its goal. In a White House address, President Obama said in exchange for educational flexibility, those 10 states have promised to raise standards and work to close the achievement gap using different approaches.

“No Child Left Behind forces teachers to teach for a test,” said junior Macy Olivas, Students For Education Reform Whitworth president. “It does not leave room to accommodate for students with disabilities and those that come from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

If handled correctly, those states have the potential to benefit the U.S. education system beyond what NCLB could allow. Instead of standardized testing, those states have gained the ability to reform their state education.

As part of a college community, this board would like to reiterate the importance of paying attention to what plays out in the coming months, or even years, with those states that were granted an exemption.

The performance of students coming out of these states could have an interesting effect on places like Whitworth. If the goal of an NCLB exemption is to create higher standards than those already in place, then in theory the caliber of students coming from said states should be higher than those states following NCLB guidelines. That is, of course, if the goals of those states are actually implemented effectively.

“We want to set high standards for students, but also have to think critically of ways that we effectively help them reach those learning goals,” Olivas said. “Teaching is a profession that is more than just about lesson planning and tests. Teachers are responsible for helping mold our future leaders. Data is important, but we have to construct policy that best support teachers so that they can best support students from all backgrounds.”

Supporting students from all backgrounds is a major concern, but changing the program will only work if it will be replaced with more successful programs.

“No Child Left Behind was better than nothing,” said Marissa Ranno, junior education major and SFER communications director. “I’m curious to see what the new programs will be, but I’ll be critical of them. Reorganizing and changing the way things are will hurt the system before it helps it. I hope that whatever the states implement in its place will be worth it — let’s not throw it out just to throw it out.”

The important thing for those states to figure out is how to support children from every angle. Children learn at different paces with different instruments.

According to the Huffington Post, while some legislators are celebrating Obama’s decision, others are wondering if it will be harder to ensure that states are helping minority and disadvantaged students.

Without teachers being forced to “teach for a test,” there may be no incentive for them to teach effectively and to make sure all students understand material, regardless of their circumstances.

Editorials in the “In the Loop” section reflect the majority opinion of the editorial board, which is made up of five editors.

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