Today President Obama made the most significant reform to No Child Left Behind since the law was enacted, giving schools waivers on some of the law's strictest provisions. The announcement triggered disagreements on whether the directive was rolling back the Bush-era education law, or emboldening it, since each wavier will have strings attached for the schools that accept them.
These are the conditions for each waiver, explains The Washington Post's Lyndsey Layton:
Waivers will be awarded to states that adopt academic standards that ensure their high school graduates are ready for college or a career, measure school performance not merely by test results but by student improvement over time, and evaluate teachers and principals using a variety of measures, including but not limited to student test scores.
States will be required to launch “rigorous” campaigns to turn around their lowest-performing schools — the bottom 5 percent. And they will have to devise ways to focus on students with the greatest needs in another 10 percent of schools with low graduation rates or large achievement gaps between students of different races.
This is gutting school accountability, writes Joy Pullmann at The Weekly Standard: "Obama is right about one thing: NCLB needs to see legislative action. The sweeping bill greatly expanded the federal government's sway over education, sending states lots more money but requiring much in return. Now, Obama and Duncan would like to continue giving states lots of education money, but release them from accountability for it. That's exactly backward."