Education Trust Criticizes the No Child Left Behind Act for Failing to Help At-Risk Students

By: Giulia Frasca, Esq., Littman Krooks LLP

On August 8, 2011 President Obama directed the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, to “move forward with plans to provide flexibility to states,” which are looking for greater relief under the No Child Left Behind law.  The U.S. Department of Education has many options available to provide flexibility to states, including waivers of statutory and regulatory provisions as well as amendments to state accountability plans.  The Federal government’s decision to offer regulatory flexibility from some provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), most recently amended in 2002 by the No Child Left Behind Act, has been criticized for failing to address the needs of at-risk students.  The Education Trust, an education advocacy group, released a report called “A Step Forward or A Step Back?  State Accountability in the Waiver Era.” This article discusses the four major problems with the waivers:

  • (1) Although states were required to set ambitious goals to raise achievement and close gaps, these goals were not counted in school ratings;
  • (2) “Super subgroups” remain a problem because when a small subgroup is combined into a larger one, certain students’ struggles could be ignored;
  • (3) States do not use multiple measures to determine performance;
  • (4) Many states have vague guidelines for accountability for improving the most struggling schools.

A Senate Committee held hearings on February 7, 2013.

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