Friday, December 11, 2015

President Obama signs bill to overhaul NCLB. Finally!

Courtesy of ABC News:  

Calling it a "Christmas miracle," President Barack Obama signed a sweeping overhaul of the No Child Left Behind education law on Thursday, ushering in a new approach to accountability, teacher evaluations and the way the most poorly performing schools are pushed to improve. 

Joined by lawmakers, students and teachers in a White House auditorium, Obama praised the George W. Bush-era No Child Left Behind for having the right goals. He said that in practice, it fell short or applied a cookie-cutter approach that failed to produce desired results. Under the new law, the federal government will shift more decision-making powers back to states. 

"With this bill, we reaffirm that fundamentally American ideal that every child— regardless of race, gender, background, zip code — deserves the chance to make out of their lives what they want," Obama said. "This is a big step in the right direction." 

The overhaul ends more than a decade of what critics have derided as one-size-fits-all federal policies dictating accountability and improvement for the nation's 100,000 or so public schools. But one key feature remains: Students will still take federally required statewide reading and math exams. Still, the new law encourages states to limit the time students spend on testing and diminishes the high stakes for underperforming schools.

You know how you say you hate something, but you REALLY don't hate it, but can't think of a better word? 

Yeah well not me my friends, I fucking HATE No Child Left Behind. And I don't care who knows it.

I had to watch kids with developmental and behavioral challenges leave high school with a "Certificate of Participation" instead of a diploma, simply because they could not pass the NCLB exit exams. They had accomplished all of the work, and passed the class room tests given by the teacher, but they simply could not get over that final hurdle. 

Many of these kids had no plans to go to college, but earning that degree was very important to them.

Seeing them walk off that stage clutching a useless piece of paper in their hands broke my damn heart.

So yes I am very glad that the guidelines have been changed.

I don't mind testing but when it destroys a student's confidence, or becomes the sole focus of a teacher's curriculum, then it is doing more harm than good.


  1. Anonymous5:31 AM

    Next up: undoing No Child Left Unarmed

    1. Anonymous6:35 AM

      Then can we ban the NRA and No Citizen Left Without 12 Assault Rifles, 1000 rounds, Six Glocks and a Bullet Proof Vest?

  2. SallyinMI6:35 AM

    Last spring in Michigan, our juniors were herded into groups, and tested on 8 different days in April, from a few hours to all day. Seriously. That was state and federal mandated testing. That took them out of class, out of their music classes, their college prep classes, their everything, to be TESTED. And how in heck was the staff supposed to catch them up if they missed one or more days? It was a freaking nightmare. Then May rolled around, and we had three weeks of AP and International Baccalaureate testing (the latest scam in Michigan is IB.) So the band director I helped said that after band festival, which is the first weekend in March, he NEVER has his entire bands in class again the rest of the year..three months without full bands.
    I hope this new law helps, but I have my doubts. The right is all about accountability (except when it comes to their tax founded charter businesses, that is, or the private schools taking tax dollars to bus kids, or themselves, for doing nothing to benefit the people..ever...) So while the testing schedule is lighter this spring, I'm sure Snyder and ALEC will cook up something ridiculous to take those instructional hours away again next year.

    1. Anonymous7:08 AM

      I'm curious why you think IB is a scam. I'm not being sarcastic or snarky. I don't know much about IB.

    2. Anonymous2:21 PM

      IB is not a scam. Check it out at I don't know what is going on in MI that has distressed Sally, but IB is a well-respected, internationally used curriculum that has been around since 1968.

  3. Anonymous6:46 AM

    As a grandmother with an autistic grandson I applaud this legislation...and every time you write about education and your passion for the children I'm reminded what a good man you are. Thanks and happy holidays to you, Gryph.

  4. Frosty8:11 AM

    NCLB not only harmed the kids. It harmed teachers, by making them seem incompetent. It harmed the schools in low rent districts, by applying the same testing to all. Kids failed, teachers failed, schools failed.

    I will continue to state - "you've got to reach 'em before you can teach 'em". With NCLB there was no time to reach 'em.

    With the mandatory testing still in place this is only a band aid on the sucking chest wound of education.

  5. Anonymous8:26 AM

    Poor widdle snowflakes. They better not plan on going to college if they're too lazy and unmotivated to study.

  6. Anonymous8:43 AM

    I have been retired for several years now, but "Leave no child behind" was one of the worst things to happen to education in my opinion.

    I am pleased to know that my former middle school colleagues will not have to deal with it in the future.

  7. Anonymous9:58 AM

    In my hometown there was a young woman with DS. She really loved to cook and was/is quite good at it. She was accepted to Johnson and Wales University on the condition she get a H.S. diploma. However, like Gryph mentions in his post, she only received a certificate because she was unable to pass the standardized testing from NCLB. As a result, JWU could not accept her as a culinary student. She went on to open a small bakery in our home town with the help of her mother. I don't think it's still there, opening a small business is difficult enough.

    This is for YOU 8:26!

    This young woman was anything but "lazy and unmotivated." She was robbed of an opportunity to go to college by government regulations and institutionalized education.

  8. Anonymous10:37 AM


  9. Anonymous1:11 PM

    antipsychotic medications were written in 2014 for children 2 and younger, a 50 percent jump from 13,000 just one year before

  10. We still have ESSA. ESSA worked just fine for years. Then Helluva job Georgie put a layer of NCLB on top and ruined the public education system in this country.

    This is the biggest area of criticism I have with Obama. He put that amateur Arne Duncan in charge of the nation's schools and let him do whatever he wanted for almost 8 years. Arne Duncan has earned a vote of no confidence from educators every year almost since the day he was appointed. And yet, he was still allowed to fuck with what was working. Now everything is so ruined that it may never be put right.

    From the nation's teachers we all shout TOLD YOU SO! Why is it that everyone listens to the experts, UNLESS they are teachers, in which case we don't know anything, we're greedy, only out for our own selfish interests, etc. Is it because doctors and lawyers don't have unions?

    Well, they didn't have much choice in getting rid of NCLB. There is no way ANY school would be able to meet those standards short of being highly selective over what students they accepted and spending a LOT of time and money to meet the tests. And in the process allowing everything else that doesn't support the test to be discarded.

    Teachers called it on NCLB. They also called it on Prop. 13 in California. It took a few decades but it's happened exactly as predicted. The Lottery also happened as they predicted. Every "fix" to fund education has been ruined with loopholes and workarounds that have left education worse than before.

    It can all be traced to the Republicans an Reagans LIE propaganda "A Nation at Risk". Totally made up. It was designed to undermine teachers and privatize education so that the for profit sector could get their hands on federal education tax dollars. So we had "cut the fat" and deprofessionalizing educators. It took them almost 40 years but they've finally succeeded.

    I don't think getting rid of NCLB (and Arne Duncan) is going to do much good. It certainly won't restore what was once a world class education system that teachers from all over the world would come to see and learn from.

  11. Anonymous2:13 PM

    NCLB was a lousy law, but it did not mandate exit exams. If there was such a requirement where you are, it was put in place by the state or perhaps your local school district.

  12. NCLB did one thing right: it disaggregated the scores of boys, girls, English learners, socio-economically disadvantaged students, etc. , so that teachers could see the gaps and work to close them. But the insane constant testing! Just weighing the pig over and over does not make him fatter!

  13. Anonymous7:57 PM

    The teacher evaluation system in my state was designed so that a teacher could bounce 2-3 rating levels from year to year because of fluctuating test scores. This year's 'Highly Effective' teacher may only be considered 'Developing' a year from now because there were more kids with special needs in the class or the state tests were unusually poorly written that year.

    Some years, the tests have been riddled with errors and poorly written reading passages and questions. Last year, most of the reading passages were deliberately written 2-3 grade levels above the grade of the students taking them, causing severe frustration for teachers and their students who were simply not capable of passing.

    Something as simple as a school-wide epidemic of a stomach virus or the flu during a test week can ruin a teacher's evaluation for that year or cause a school to be placed on a disciplinary list.

    In addition, the teachers didn't receive the scores until AFTER the end of the school year, and those results contained nothing except an overall score, with no breakdown of how the student did in any specific skill area. Therefore, the scores were useless in determining where the individual student (who was now in another grade) needed more help OR which skills the teacher needed to spend more time teaching.

    And, oh yeah, the cut scores (which determine a passing grade) were determined AFTER all the tests were graded. That way, State Ed could decide how many students they wanted to pass the tests and adjust the passing score as necessary to achieve the desired percentage!

    There was a chart going around about a year ago that listed test lengths in 2014. LSATs, GREs, SATs and MCATs were all between 3 and 5 1/4 hours long. The NYS Bar exam was 12 hours long. State ELA and math tests for grades 3-8 were 7 hours long. For some students with IEPs who have extended time (2x), this means FOURTEEN hours of testing in a 2 week period! For an EIGHT YEAR OLD!

    Between overtesting, developmentally inappropriate curricula, and demonization of our teachers and public school system, we are in serious danger of creating an entire generation of children who loathe and fear school.

  14. My son was one of those students who received a certificate of participation at graduation because he had not passed one of the sections of the High School Qualifying Exam. He was devastated and I was heart broken. The state sure showed him a thing or two.
    Put him right in his place for being close to needing special services, but not quite. He left the state with his worthless piece of paper, spent a year at trade school, came back and got a pretty decent job which he still has. Then he returned to his high school and retook that portion of the exam again. He passed and received his diploma two and half years after graduating. Though it hadn't stopped him from accomplishing what he wanted to, not having that diploma rankled. And of course a couple of years later the state threw out the certificate of participation component and revised all the scores downward. Message to those past students who hadn't received their diplomas? Tough shit! New game. Sucks to be you.

    Bright kids take advantage of all the wonderful things schools have to offer, but those kids who have never been able to read, write, and do math at grade level are the ones who suffer. If that were the goal,
    we'd see a lot more success. If a second grader can't read, write, and do math at grade level, he shouldn't be taught as a second grader. I don't mean single him out for humiliation, but figure out a way to make sure, to guarantee, that student can catch up with his peers.

  15. Anonymous8:53 AM

    I hated NCLB, but I'm pretty sure the exit exam was brought to you by your AK legislature, spearheaded by Con Bunde.


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