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No Child Left Behind Rewrite Gives Power Back to Indiana

Some educators say "No Child Left Behind" focused too much on high-stakes testing. Credit: jdurham/morguefile
Some educators say "No Child Left Behind" focused too much on high-stakes testing.
Credit: jdurham/morguefile
December 10, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS - President Obama is expected to sign legislation today that will give Indiana educators more control over how children are taught.

The U.S. Senate voted in favor of a bipartisan education reform bill that will replace the policy known as No Child Left Behind and return much of the control of education policy to the states.

The House overwhelmingly passed its version of the Every Student Succeeds Act last week. Theresa Meredith, president with the Indiana State Teachers Association, says No Child Left Behind focused too much on high-stakes testing, and didn't allow for what she calls "teachable moments."

"Actually being able to teach in real time," says Meredith. "When you see issues come up or you see kids struggling, you actually can do what you need to do to support their learning if you aren't so driven by a single test score."

The new bill gives states a lot more flexibility, rejecting the test-and-punish approach of No Child Left Behind. States can now use their own formulas for evaluating teachers and schools. Districts will no longer be forced to close schools and remove staff if students miss the cut on test scores.

Mary Kusler, director of government relations with the National Education Association, says states will be required to evaluate schools on the quality of the program which will be an incentive to go beyond the bare minimum.

"Every state will now, for the very first time, have to include at least one measure of student or school support, access to higher-level coursework, school counselors, school librarians, access to arts and music," says Kusler.

States still will be required to test kids on reading and math once a year in grades 3 to 8 and once in high school. Kids will be tested on science one time each during elementary, middle and high school.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IN