Education Secretary Arne Duncan has said he will grant waivers from some “No Child Left Behind” test score requirements to states which agree to adopt policies that he favors. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais - AP) Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, backed by the White House, just confirmed that he will grant waivers from some “No Child Left Behind” test score requirements to states which agree to adopt policies that he favors. This rewriting of federal law by the administration, not Congress may well be illegal. If Duncan gets away with it, states will be tempted to replace one set of bad policies (sanctions on most schools) with another (sanctions on teachers). The alternative is for states, districts, teachers, administrators, students, unions, civic groups and others to stand up and say, “No more.”
Federal education law most certainly needs a complete overhaul. Ending escalating, test-based sanctions on most schools is a good first step. But, based on his track-record with “Race to the Top” and School Improvement Grants, Duncan probably will replace these sanctions with a requirement to use student test scores to judge teachers.
Meanwhile, the lowest scoring schools most likely will be forced to adopt RTTT-style changes, such as firing the staff or privatizing control over the schools, actions for which there is no evidence that they will improve education. Many of the changes, such as closing schools, badly disrupt communities, as a coalition of civil rights groups pointed out last summer.
The most logical response to the cheating scandals in Atlanta, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., and elsewhere is to dial back the emphasis on testing. Unfortunately, Duncan will almost certainly not do so...
Tuesday, August 09, 2011
Why states should refuse Duncan’s NCLB waivers
This from Monty Neill of FairTest in The Answer Sheet: