Jennifer is a senior at Shawnee Mission East. She enjoys country music, cowboy boots and cowboys. Mainly the last one. She is also a vital member of the Broadcasting Dream Team. Read Full »
In 2001, former President George W. Bush implemented the No Child Left Behind Act. Over the course of ten years, a new president and many changes in Congress have brought the law back into focus. On September 23 a new option was announced that allowed states the opportunity to waive the law. No Child Left Behind was implemented by the Bush administration and stated that each state had to have all of it’s students proficient in both math and science by the year 2014. The law also said that it didn’t matter how the state was to achieve that proficiency as long as they could show that, by the end date, all of the students were proficient. Some states, like Arkansas, thought the law would be rethought by 2014, like it has, and they didn’t change much in their schools, but had a drastic jump in the last few years before the deadline. Principal Dr. Karl Karwitz has been in education for over 40 years and believes original No Child Left Behind was a good law to have in place. Although, he does believe that some of the ways the state and federal governments have gone about it was not the best way.
“I think the law itself was a good law because it meant [the states] had to have some accountability,” said Dr. Krawitz, “the methodology to fulfill the goal was obviously not the right thing.”
According to Dr. Krawitz, reaching the 100 percent proficiency is statistically impossible. As it is East is at 96 percent proficient in both math and science, but reaching the previous goal was literally impossible.
Within the provisions of the new waiver states will have to create their own plans for intervening in the lowest performing 5 percent of their schools. They also will be required to identify the next lowest 10 percent of schools in the state in terms of graduation rates. For this lowest 15 percent of schools, states will have to create college-and-career-ready standards. They will also have to create guidelines for teacher evaluations that will be based mainly upon student performance.
When the No Child Left Behind Act states began to put more of a focus on the standardized standardizing tests that are typically taken at the end of the school year. These tests not only put a strain on the teachers to have their students pass the tests, it put less of an emphasis on actually learning the material. With Dr. Krawitz teaching towards the tests is not an ideal situation.
“[Testing] has been the downfall of the educational profession, we’ve thrown all of our marbles into one hat, that says testing shows us how well the student has learned and how well the teacher has taught,” said Dr. Krawitz, “The reality is those tests don’t tell us either one of those things.”
If states don’t accept the new waiver they run the risk of losing federal education funding. However, for most states it’s only 5 to 10 percent of their annual budget.
Another integral part of the waiver requires states to have at least three different ways of evaluating schools or school districts. The area that has to be the most prominent is student growth which would then show the effectiveness of the teachers.
It is still unclear as to how exactly states will go about making these changes, or how quickly they will be required to implement their new goals. However, states could start creating goals for the spring semester of 2012.
As far as the state of Kansas goes there isn’t any word yet on whether or not they will accept a form of the new waiver. Dr. Krawitz believes they will only retain No Child Left Behind as an improvement program.