Federal

Education Department Announces More Flexible Approach to NCLB Law

By David J. Hoff — April 07, 2005 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings announced April 7 that she will entertain “common sense” changes to implementing the No Child Left Behind Act so long as states can guarantee her they are producing higher student achievement and following the law’s basic tenets.

She also pledges to convene a panel of experts to determine how, under current law, states could count schools and districts as making adequate yearly progress if they meet growth targets. Now, all schools and districts in a state have to reach the same levels of student proficiency.

In addition, Ms. Spellings said the department would approve individual states’ proposals for changes if the states can prove they are improving student achievement. The department would consider student test scores, high school graduation rates, and a state’s success in reaching students with disabilities and other groups whose achievement ranks below average on state assessments.

“It is the results that truly matter, not the bureaucratic way that you get there,” Ms. Spellings said in the speech at George Washington’s Estates & Gardens historic site in Mount Vernon, Va. “That’s just common sense, sometimes lost in the halls of the government.”

The special education rules will be in effect soon—possibly in the 2005-06 school year. Ms. Spellings said the department would formally propose the regulation this spring.

Under the proposal, states could identify students with “persistent academic disabilities” and create separate standards for them to meet and modified assessments for them to take. The rule would allow 2 percent of a school’s or district’s enrollment to be tested against the new standards and counted as proficient for accountability purposes.

The new rule would be in addition to an existing regulation governing students with severe cognitive disabilities. That rule says that 1 percent of a school’s or district’s enrollment may be tested against standards other than those of their own grade level and still be considered proficient for accountability purposes.

While Ms. Spellings offered new flexibility, she said there were certain rules in the statute that she has no desire or power to change. States will still be required to test students annually from grade 3 through 8 and once in high school and report student scores by demographic subgroups, for example.

States also will need to improve the quality of their teachers and make data on school performance available to parents, she added.

Other than the special education rules and the possibility of setting growth targets, Ms. Spellings did not offer specific examples of the types of rules the department would be willing to waive.

After the speech, the department’s top K-12 official said that the department is willing to consider any changes that aren’t specifically mandated in the 3-year-old law. By the end of the month, the department will tell states the procedures they’ll need to follow to receive the department’s approval for such flexibility, said Raymond J. Simon, the assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Professional Development Webinar
Strategies for Improving Student Outcomes with Teacher-Student Relationships
Explore strategies for strengthening teacher-student relationships and hear how districts are putting these methods into practice to support positive student outcomes.
Content provided by Panorama Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Classroom Technology Webinar
Transform Teaching and Learning with AI
Increase productivity and support innovative teaching with AI in the classroom.
Content provided by Promethean
Curriculum Webinar Computer Science Education Movement Gathers Momentum. How Should Schools React?
Discover how schools can expand opportunities for students to study computer science education.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Conservatives Hammer on Hot-Button K-12 Education Issues at Federalist Society Event
The influential legal group discussed critical race theory, gender identity, and Title IX.
6 min read
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos speaks at the Phoenix International Academy in Phoenix on Oct. 15, 2020.
Former U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was among a phalanx of conservatives addressing K-12 issues at a conference of the Federalist Society.
Matt York/AP
Federal Cardona Back-to-School Tour to Focus on Teacher Pipeline, Academic Recovery
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona will spend a week traveling to six states to highlight a range of K-12 priorities.
2 min read
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona answers questions during an interview in his office in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, August 23, 2022.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona continues a tradition of on-site visits by the nation's top education official as the school year opens.
Alyssa Schukar for Education Week
Federal Biden's Student Loan Forgiveness: How Much Will It Help Teachers?
Advocates say Black educators—who tend to carry heavier debt loads—won't benefit as much.
5 min read
Illustration of student loans.
alexsl/iStock/Getty
Federal Q&A U.S. Education Secretary Cardona: How to Fix Teacher Shortages, Create Safe Schools
In an exclusive interview with Education Week, the secretary looks ahead to the challenges of this school year.
10 min read
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona answers questions during an interview in his office in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, August 23, 2022.
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona answers questions during an interview in his office in Washington on Aug. 23.
Alyssa Schukar for Education Week