NCLB Waivers Promote Gains

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

To the Editor:

The No Child Left Behind Act highlighted how extreme the achievement gap is in this country. One major flaw in NCLB logic, however, is that the legislation does not take student growth into account. It is impossible to close the achievement gap without student growth.

Schools must be given incentives to produce accelerated student gains. The NCLB waivers have done just that by calling states to identify "priority" and "focus" schools and to develop improvement plans for each identified school that consist of multiple state-approved interventions. Focus schools are specifically identified for an achievement gap between two or more subgroups in the school, and NCLB waivers have allowed districts the flexibility to implement allowable interventions to address achievement gaps.

Now that we have been able to observe the implementation of the waivers and how schools are responding to the new flexibility, I have noticed the following:

• Some schools have more flexibility than others, and, as expected, the lowest-performing schools have less flexibility than top performers.

• Budgets are tight, and despite significantly greater flexibility in how federal education dollars are spent, tightening school budgets inhibit the implementation of differentiated intervention programs.

• Local education agencies and schools are left with little choice but to develop targeted supports for struggling students. To leverage limited resources, schools must target subgroups of students that need additional help. With the new focus on growth, principals should re-evaluate which students get the bulk of intervention resources.

NCLB incentivized states to lower standards in order for more students to be able to "pass" the test. As such, we have seen tremendous disparities between state scores and the National Assessment of Educational Progress results.

Having said all that, quality programming is on the rise—greater flexibility coupled with diminished budgets has caused decisionmakers to focus on quality.

Isaak Aronson
SmartStart Education, LLC
New Haven, Conn.

Vol. 32, Issue 20, Pages 30-31

Published in Print: February 6, 2013, as NCLB Waivers Promote Gains
Related Stories
Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories