Education Community Weighs In on NCLB Flexibility

“This isn’t just the right thing to do for our kids -– it’s the right thing to do for our country,” said President Obama earlier today when he announced details on how states can get relief from provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act- or No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

President Obama Greets Students

President Barack Obama greets Keiry Herrera, a sixth grade student at Graham Road Elementary School in Fairfax, Va., following remarks on the need to provide states with relief from key provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act, in the East Room of the White House, Sept. 23, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

“We can’t afford to wait for an education system that is not doing everything it needs to do for our kids,” the President said. “We can’t let another generation of young people fall behind because we didn’t have the courage to recognize what doesn’t work, admit it, and replace it with something that does. We’ve got to act now.”

The education community has been weighing in on the President’s announcement, and here is a sample of what they’re saying:

National PTA: “National PTA believes this package promotes true partnership and collaborative decision-making in education reform; encouraging states and districts to engage with all stakeholders, including parents, in developing state plans and turning around failing schools.”

The Education Trust: “This plan strikes a new balance between the federal and state roles in educating our nation’s children. It does not prescribe particular systems or interventions for the vast majority of schools, instead setting strong goals for states and giving them the flexibility to determine how their schools and districts will meet them.”

National Association of Secondary School Principals: “Principal evaluation has been a front-burner topic for the past several months, and we thank the administration for promoting a model of principal evaluation that incorporates multiple measures and is developed with input from principals.”

NEA: “President Obama has taken a welcome step forward with this plan.  It sets much more realistic goals for schools, while maintaining ESEA’s original commitment to civil rights, high academic standards and success for every student,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.

Council of Great City Schools: “The Council of the Great City Schools, the nation’s primary coalition of large urban school districts, announced its support for President Obama’s proposal to waive various provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind program in exchange for an array of school reforms.”

National Association of State Boards of Education: “We want to thank the Administration for recognizing the hard work that states do under the leadership of their respective state boards of education to help make students college- and career-ready,” NASBE Executive Director Brenda Welburn said. “The law passed 10 years ago no longer reflects the progress states have made preparing America’s students for life beyond high school. It is simply unrealistic and unrelated to the work of states today.”

Council of Chief State School Officers: “The one-size-fits-all approach of our current system has become a barrier to state-level progress. We believe that the best way to move forward is for Congress to reauthorize ESEA. In the absence of congressional action, this waiver package will provide states with the authority to continue leading in accountability and education reform, and we look forward to working with our counterparts at the federal level to make sure that all children graduate from high school prepared to succeed in their future endeavors.”

Chiefs for Change: “We applaud both the flexibility waivers will grant states and districts and the reforms the Administration’s waiver policy will reward. We appreciate the Administration’s flexibility for data collection, rewarding progress, and supporting teacher effectiveness polices. Waivers like the ones the Administration laid out today – which do not weaken the rigor or accountability in No Child Left Behind – will help states improve student achievement.”

National School Boards Association: “The proposed NCLB regulatory relief plan is a positive step as it could provide much needed assistance to local school district efforts to improve student achievement.”

Association of School Business Officials International: “We are encouraged and appreciate President Obama and Secretary Duncan’s insight into some of the deficiencies of NCLB,” said John Musso, Executive Director for ASBO International. “The proposed plan allows for more state and local control without compromising some of ESEA’s commitments, including setting high academic standards and an expectation of success for every student.”

Read What NCLB Flexibility Means for You


  1. Amen Lynn, I agree as a special educator and principal of a small non-profit elementary school in Brooklyn. I have seen my students persevere, progress each year, but remain below the acceptable level that has been designated as “proficient” Hogwash!!
    Many of these students will go on and become highly productive members in their community as well as excel in areas of their particular strengths. Alignment, understanding, acceptance is necessary. The “framers” of our current education laws/standards should spend a year or two in an inclusion or self-contained classroom. Perhaps legislation and accountability standards would change!

  2. What exactly are College & Career ready standards? No one knows yet becuase they DON’T exist. As part of NCLB back in 2001, states were asked to set their own standards, create their own measurement of those standards, report on how THEIR kids were doing on THEIR standards, and intervene if schools habitually do not make progress on THEIR standards. 10 years later, NCLB is “broken” because states didn’t properly game the system. So now they get a “do-over” to create state by state systems that ensure they appear successful. I’m sure the staates won’t miss this chance to create rules that ensure they don’t lose or look bad. It’s all a MASSIVE HOAX!

  3. OOPS. I didn’t praise anyone. Even so, please post my comment. I think it will get a conversation started that may point out some flaws in the plan that those in power (who have not taught in a classroom lately, if ever) have not noticed.

  4. Will this bring NCLB and IDEA regulations into closer agreement/alignment? As a Special Educator I have seen students work very hard and acheive great strides in a school year. The problem is they still perform below grade level which is the measure by which most of states base their definition of proficiency and success. I’ve always thought it funny that educated people could make a law that assumes with enough “researched based” “best practices”, perfectly written and carried out lesson plans, … we can cure autism, dyslexia, intellectual disabilities and any other “disability” that keeps children from preforming at grade level. If that were true then why do we need the specialization area of Special Education?

  5. The best teachers are still being kept out of the classrooms due to excessive Praxis testing, bureaucratic federal and state mandates, limited vision by school districts and politics.
    We can’t regain our competitive advantage by one-size-fits-all education policies, corporate-led school indoctrination, out-of-touch pedagogy and mamby pamby programs.
    Schools controlled by roly-poly thirty-somethings with squirrel nuts for brains will not lead us into the next century. University training of these underachievers is not a solution to our global, competitive nightmares.

  6. With the flexibility forthcoming and the acknowledgment that NCLB is broken, why not a blanket waiver or suspension of the accountability mandates. Set asides for improvement activities to fix what is broken overall are a waste of federal money that we cannot afford to waste. This only contributes to the federal deficit.

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