States Drop ‘No Child Left Behind’ Standards

May 30, 2012 Updated: May 30, 2012

Eight additional states have decided to loosen ties with the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) mandate on schools, the Department of Education said on Tuesday.

In exchange for other federal mandates, states can opt out of NCLB and still receive federal funds for their schools, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stated in a conference call May 29.

The requirements states must meet are to develop plans that will “prepare all students for college and successful careers, focusing aid on the neediest students, and supporting effective teaching and leadership,” Duncan said.

To date, there are 19 states that have chosen not to use NCLB standards, with 18 more under review. The eight new states are Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Rhode Island.

Duncan said that relieved of NCLB’s one-size-fits-all mandate, schools will now be able to create “locally catered solutions to meet their unique educational challenges.”

There are three main goals that states have to meet: have college and career ready standards; create a plan to strengthen, bring up, and support teachers and principals; and create an accountability system to find the lowest performing schools, or schools with the highest inequality in student performance, and focus on making them better.

No Child Left Behind, enacted in 2001, is the current reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965, part of President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty” initiative. The program aims to ensure all children receive an equal education.

ESEA historically has been reauthorized every five years, but NCLB has been in place for over 10 years, yet to be reauthorized by Congress.

Duncan says that as states find the best way for them to achieve their educational needs, he hopes Congress will move forward. “When congress does decide to reauthorize NCLB,” there needs to be “creativity coming from states,” working together with Congress, says Duncan.

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