Finally, the most widely ignored provision of No Child Left Behind may be removed from the books. As reported in The Hill on Thursday morning, the House and Senate have introduced proposals to update and amend the Bush-era policy, gutting it of the Adequate Yearly Progress provision.
AYP was supposed to be the measure that would track how well schools were moving toward the very, very ambitious goal of ensuring all students were proficient in math and reading by 2014 (a goal, which now looking back, seems absurd). One of the problems with AYP was that it was supposed to be a national standard, but each state was allowed to construct its own system to measure it. As a report from the Center on Education Policy explains the problem:
The AMOs [annual measurable objectives], as well as the content and rigor of tests used to measure student achievement, vary greatly among states. For that reason, AYP results should not be directly compared between states, and a state with a higher percentage of schools failing to make AYP should not be assumed to have a weaker educational system.
In 2011, 91 percent of Florida schools did not make AYP. Meanwhile, only 22 percent of Delaware schools didn't cut it. Under this system, it's impossible to say whether Florida schools are really all that much worse than Delaware schools.
In light of the failures of AYP, and in light of the fact that by 2011, 48 percent of schools were not making it, the Obama administration has been giving waivers to states so they do not face punishment. As the map below brightly indicates, most states have been granted waivers at this point.
A more recent survey by the Center on Education Policy indicates that states "are optimistic that the waivers will improve student learning," and have even accelerated state-level reforms. So it's a provision of a law that has already been made void by time and executive action, and the waivers to the rule are actually benefiting schools. Good riddance — if it passes.
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.