September 12, 2013

Editorial |States need freedom from No Child Left Behind

The following editorial appeared in the Florence Morning News on Sunday.

The following editorial appeared in the Florence Morning News on Sunday.

A study released by education advocates last week argued that at-risk students are falling through the cracks in the states, like South Carolina and 33 other states, that have been granted waivers from parts of the No Child Left Behind Act by the Education Department.

The results of the study show students who are at the highest risk of dropping out – those from poor families, students whose native language is not English, those with learning disabilities and minority students – are often no longer tracked as carefully as they were before Education Secretary Arne Duncan began exempting states from some requirements if they promised to better prepare their students for college or careers.

The waivers released school districts from the all-or-nothing, pass-or-fail system of the federal Adequately Yearly Progress, which educators decried for its inflexibility and parents cried over because they couldn’t figure out what the heck it meant.

The feds stuffed No Child Left Behind with unattainable goals and hollow buzz words, and S.C. Superintendent of Education Mick Zais was just in requesting the waiver.

As a result of the waiver, it has led to a patchwork of rules across the country, which some argue has created gaping holes for at-risk students to fall through.

What it says to us is that schools are trying to figure out better ways, searching for that so-far elusive crossroads where schools are being held accountable and students are being held to standards.

The amount of waivers should prompt Congress to review and update an act that expired when today’s high school seniors were in sixth grade.

Until then, states should continue finding the education formula that best suits them.

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