With the award of No Child Left Behind waivers to Wisconsin and Washington State, more than half of U.S. states are now exempt from the signature Bush era education law, but that doesn't mean they're free from the standardized tests it relies on.
As the Obama administration doles out waivers to the law, The New York Times' Motoko Rich suggests it's essentially becoming nullified. Twenty-six states now have them, and 10 more are pending. The waivers let states off the hook from No Child Left Behind's requirement that students reach certain levels of reading and math comprehension by 2014. But the waivers don't do away with the standardized tests, just the "all-or-nothing" approach that designates schools as failing if they don't meet certain yearly test score goals. Rich explains:
In exchange for the education waivers, schools and districts must promise to set new targets aimed at preparing students for colleges and careers. They must also tether evaluations of teachers and schools in part to student achievement on standardized tests. The use of tests to judge teacher effectiveness is a departure from No Child Left Behind, which used test scores to rate schools and districts.
In fact, the waivers use more indicators to evaluate schools than the No Child Left Behind act alone, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (pictured) told Rich, "like how many students actually enrolled in college or took Advanced Placement exams, as well as reviews of teachers by their peers, their students and their principals." But educators aren't necessarily sold. One superintendent told Rich the waivers were "just sort of moving around the chairs on the Titanic."
For Rich's whole report, check out The New York Times.