Regardless of how you feel about the No Child Left Behind Act, The State Superintendent of Education for Alabama was not terribly fond of the regulations and sought a state-wide waiver. The waiver was recently granted, paving the way for widespread changes in Alabama’s state curriculum.
The state of Alabama was cleared to depart from the Bush-era education program known as No Child Left Behind when they were granted an educational waiver. The state will focus on preparing students for a future, instead of for a test the State Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice said.
“While it sounds simple in words, that is a monumental step for us,” he said during a state board of education work session in Montgomery.
Bice’s comment comes days after the U.S. Department of Education approved a waiver, allowing Alabama to transition from No Child Left Behind to a state-developed program called Plan 2020.
The program includes new curriculum standards known as the Alabama College and Career Ready Standards, which have generated criticism in the state Legislature because of their alignment with new national standards known as the Common Core State Standards.
Other features include new student-assessment systems aligned with those standards and a benchmarking goal to achieve a 90 percent graduation rate and ensure all graduates are adequately prepared for college or career by the year 2020.
Plan 2020 will also incorporate a new accountability system for schools, Bice said today. The Alabama Department of Education plans to unveil that system in July.
Unlike the accountability measure mandated by No Child Left Behind, which labeled schools as failing to meet adequate yearly progress or AYP if they missed any of a number of measurements, the new measure will provide a more holistic assessments of schools, Bice said.
“We’re going to be more accountable than we’ve ever been before, but accountable for the right things,” he said.
The new accountability system will include student-achievement measures, achievement gaps, growth measures, college and career readiness standards, and attendance measures, Bice said after the meeting.
According to the White House, Alabama is the 38th state to successfully obtain a waiver from No Child Left Behind. A total of 47 states have applied for waivers.
States have been free to seek waivers since the Obama administration announced in September 2011 it would consider waivers due to Congress’ failure to update No Child Left Behind, which it was expected to do in 2007.
“No Child Left Behind, when it was enacted, was exactly what we needed at that time,” Bice said today.
“(But) it was beginning to yield unintended and somewhat negative consequences.”
That position was not reflected by the full board though. President Pro Tem Ella Bell of Montgomery said she opposed No Child Left Behind from its inception.
“We were failing children and we were failing the state,” she said.
Bice said the waiver from No Child Left Behind comes after eight months of negotiation with the U.S. Department of Education.