This article was published in The Shelbyville News on December 5, 2015.
“An extremely flawed law and an overreach by the federal government into local school issues.”
That is how Shelbyville Schools Superintendent Dr. David Adams sums up his opinion of the No Child Left Behind Act.
Fortunately for Adams, a change could be coming to the education bill that has been controversial at
Earlier this week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 359-64 in favor of legislation that would repeal and replace No Child Left Behind, which was approved by President George W. Bush in 2001.
Taking its place would be the “Every Student Succeeds Act,” which is aimed at giving power back to local states and districts pertaining to testing and education standards. The measure moves onto the Senate, but has drawn rave reviews from local educators and Rep. Luke Messer, who voted in favor of the measure.
“The federal government only contributes approximately 10 percent to local finances to Indiana school corporations leaving the other 90 percent to be picked up through state and local taxes. However, the federal government, through the No Child Left Behind Act, greatly expanded its role in state educational policy,” Adams said.
Adams said the goals of No Child Left Behind were “unobtainable.”
“For instance one goal is that ‘all students will achieve high academic standards by attaining proficiency or better in reading and mathematics by the 2013-2014 school year.’ The word ‘all’ basically doomed all schools to eventually fail. Nonetheless, school corporations, through the law’s directions, were held accountable for making adequate yearly progress (AYP) through a very prescribed process. If progress wasn’t made, schools were harshly penalized through predetermined step-by-step accountability measures. The act was very difficult for larger school corporations to make AYP because of the many subgroups within their schools. Smaller school corporations with fewer subgroups tended to appear better since they did not have to meet those AYP goals that were very difficult to achieve. I am very pleased that Congress has decided to dump the No Child Left Behind Act,” Adams said.
The views of Adams run parallel to what Congressman Messer said he has heard.
“I have not heard from one parent, student or teacher who likes No Child Left Behind. Despite what may have been the best of intentions, its one-size-fits-all mandates led to federal micromanagement in the classroom, over-tested kids and anxiety-ridden teachers, yet no significant improvement in student outcomes. This bill gives a new approach to the federal role in education. It gives power over education back to the people we trust – local administrators, teachers and parents who are best positioned to make decisions for our students,” Messer said in a statement.
Under the new proposal, the federal government will be prohibited from requiring states to adopt Common Core, a main issue in recent years in Indiana. In addition, it ends federally mandated testing and eliminates Adequate Yearly Progress metrics, while increasing access to quality charter schools.
Northwestern Consolidated School District of Shelby County Superintendent Chris Hoke welcomed the change.
“As a general philosophy, I am in favor of significantly reducing the federal government’s role in educational policy, significantly reducing the amount of standardized assessment and returning policy-making decisions back to local levels of government,” Hoke said.
Earlier this year, Indiana came under fire and was in danger of losing its No Child Left Behind waiver, prompting a talk about accountability standards.
“Once No Child Left Behind is scrapped I think that states should be given much greater flexibility to develop their own school accountability system. The taxpayers of Indiana are paying for public education in Indiana and should have the right to develop an educational system that meets the unique needs of the state and local school districts. I strongly believe that local control will lead to much more realistic goals and accountability for Indiana schools. I don’t think that you will find too many superintendents who are against school accountability. I think school administrators and and teachers just want a system that is realistic, fair, and a true indication of the type of education that is being provided to students,” Adams said.