The U.S. Education Secretary says it’s time for an overhaul of the “No Child Left Behind” law. “We want every child to have a chance to fulfill their great potential,” U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Sunday in Cedar Rapids.
Duncan made stops in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines Sunday to discuss some of the reform ideas he’ll present to congress today. “I think the past law was too punitive, was too prescription and actually led to a lowering of the bar, a lowering of expectations,” Duncan said.
“We want to have a high bar. We want to reward success and we want to really increase local control and flexibility and we think the great ideas are always going to come at the local level.”
Under current “No Child Left Behind” standards, schools are judged based on how many students in a school reach or exceed certain test scores. Duncan’s agency reports 13 states have lowered their standards for math, reading and science in order to meet the testing goals. Duncan’s new proposal calls for shifting away from solely measuring whether students are performing at their particular grade level. Instead, states will be encouraged to adopt new standards that judge whether students are prepared for college or a career. The Obama Administration is encouraging states to adopt a common set of standards, too.
“I think Iowa should be very proud of its education system. There’s a lot that’s going right here, but we all want to continue to get better,” Duncan said in Cedar Rapids. “We all want to continue support more talent coming into education, do a better job of keeping great teachers in the classroom.”
Iowa Senator Tom Harkin leads the Senate committee that will begin hearings this week on the changes Duncan is outlining. “We’re not going to have sound economic recovery, sustainable economic recovery in this country unless we focus on education,” Harkin said Sunday in Cedar Rapids.
Later today Duncan will formally present congress with a “blueprint” for revising “No Child Left Behind.” It includes a recommendation for getting rid of the “No Child Left Behind” name for the law, as well as new teacher evaluations and removing some teacher benefits that are based on seniority.