EDITORIALS

Opposing Viewpoints: Is a waiver from No Child Left Behind a benefit?

TimesNewspapers Editorial Board

Yes

Ever since the No Child Left Behind mandates went into place in the early 2000s, teachers and school administrators have cried foul at the program’s testing methods.

Schools and districts are graded on standards that are irrelevant and outdated. Nothing says this more than the fact that fewer than 10 high schools in Illinois passed the state’s Adequate Yearly Progress standards for the 2010-11 school year.

Despite the astronomical percentage of schools failing the program, the standards keep getting pushed higher year after year. If only eight schools in the state can match the standards set by PSAE, then how many can be expected to make it when the standards are increased year after year?

While the NCLB program won’t be going away anytime soon, the state is right in requesting a waiver from a program that has been shown to not work.

Schools must be held accountable if its students are not progressing during each year of school, but so many factors go into a student’s learning that cannot be accounted for in an annual test.

Until the entire program is scrapped, the government should give each state a waiver and let them find their own way to assess its teachers, administrators and students.

No

School superintendents throughout the Tri-County Area have been down playing the validity of scores their schools received on the most recent State Report Card.

It is no wonder. Many schools have failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress under the mandates of No Child Left Behind.

This year 85 percent of students had to meet or exceed the standards on the state tests for a school to pass. That is a hefty number. The percentage just keeps going up.

Administrators complain the expectations are too high and that their schools appear to be failing. They have been making sound arguments to counter that perception and getting plenty of press to spread that message.

So, no harm, no foul.

The idea behind NCLB is sound. The scores point out where weaknesses lie.

There is no doubt many of the schools that failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress are great schools. They, however, are not beyond improvement.

Scores have validity within the classroom setting evaluating students’ progress. They also have validity when evaluating a school.

Illinois should not seek a waiver.

Fleeing from accountability is not a message our schools should be sending.