President Obama intends to overhaul the No Child Left Behind education law, changing the school accountability system that has placed a failing label on over a third of schools, the Associated Press reported.
No Child Left Behind pushes schools to improve test scores each year with the goal of making all U.S. children able to read and do math on their grade level by 2014.
But in his budget plan, Obama proposed a new way to judge whether schools are making adequate yearly progress. Schools that perform well would now be provided with rewards and incentives, while schools that perform poorly would face intervention and other consequences.
While No Child Left Behind spotlights children who are in need of the most help, the law “does little to reward progress,” said education secretary Arne Duncan. Under the budget plan, schools would be rewarded for students’ improvement, even if those students aren’t yet performing on their grade level.
Administration officials have spent a considerable amount of time outlining their goals in meetings with education groups.
“This administration is not going to retreat,” from pushing poor-performing schools to do better, said Kati Haycock, president of the Education Trust.
Obama said No Child Left Behind, which was originally commissioned by President George W. Bush and signed into law in 2002, is overdue for revisions.
Still, critics of the law claim that annual math and reading tests have pulled focus away from other subjects including music and art, and claim that schools were promised billions of dollars to meet the law’s requirements that were never received.
It is uncertain if the 2014 deadline can be met if Congress agrees to change the system of measuring adequate yearly progress. The adequate yearly progress system is deeply intertwined with the law’s deadline, according to The New York Times.
“Each state shall establish a timeline for adequate yearly progress,” the law says. “The timeline shall ensure that not later than 12 years after the end of the 2001-2002 school year, all students in each group will meet or exceed the proficient level.”